A beleaguered resort firm has been slapped down by the Tourism Ministry for “willfully inciting employees towards disrupting the calm of visitors and guests with illegal riots and protests.”
Villa Group was the target of customs and police action earlier this month, with alcohol confiscated from four of its properties.
The raids led to protests and the suspension of Villa’s alcohol import licenses, which were then temporarily reinstated.
The firm is owned by opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim, who is in Germany after fleeing the Maldives on medical leave while serving a three-year sentence for bribery.
On Tuesday the Tourism Ministry condemned Villa, saying it continued to owe money to the state and was operating in bad faith despite repeated reminders by regulators and enforcement authorities.
“We take harsh notice of the fact that the company has gone well beyond the realm of decent, professional conduct by distributing pictures and videos, and willfully encouraging added exposure of enforcement officials legally tasked with documenting its dues.
“The Administration wishes, in good faith, to direct tour operators and entities doing business with the group to take note of the company’s actions and to entertain the strong possibility that the temporary reinstatement period may not be extended should the company continue to act in such bad faith and as such services may be disrupted.”
Gasim has denied any wrongdoing, saying Villa has not acted illegally.