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Let it go: Villa Group bank accounts no longer frozen

Villa Group has experienced several setbacks since the Jumhooree Party split with the ruling coalition and allied itself with the opposition.



Villa Group’s bank accounts have been unfrozen following a favourable Supreme Court ruling for the troubled conglomerate, which is owned by the self-exiled Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim.

Mihaaru Daily quoted anonymous sources who confirmed to the newspaper that the accounts were back up and running. Avas and VFP, quoting their own sources, also reported that the accounts had been unfrozen.

Villa and the Maldives tax authority refused to comment on the reports.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Villa last week, saying the government had unlawfully revoked agreements for three islands and two lagoons in 2015.

Villa Group firms went to the Civil Court, which ruled that the government’s seizure of the properties was illegal.

But the High Court later overturned that decision and the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority sought to recover MVR 2.9 billion (USD$188 million) it said Villa owed as unpaid rent and fines for the properties.

The Villa bank accounts were frozen in 2015 and unfrozen in 2016, following the Civil Court ruling, then frozen again when the High Court overturned the lower court’s ruling.

A MIRA official previously told the Maldives Independent it would act accordingly when the Supreme Court ruling was officially received.

The verdict is a respite for Villa, which has experienced several setbacks since the JP split with the ruling coalition and allied itself with the opposition.

It axed staff in the months following the seizure of the properties. The government took over Kaadehdhoo airport, which was operated by Villa, and downgraded Villa’s Maamigili international airport to domestic status.

More recently Villa went to court after authorities decided to confiscate alcohol at four of its resorts following raids targeting the group’s businesses.

Tourism tycoon Gasim is currently in Germany after fleeing the Maldives on medical leave while serving a three-year jail term for bribery.

His son Siyad Gasim, Villa’s managing director, is in detention and facing trial on charges of bribing Supreme Court justices.