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Hamid freed after completing prison term

The businessman was convicted over the theft of a US$5 million resort lease payment.



Hamid Ismail, a prominent businessman who was jailed with the former vice president, was freed from prison Saturday after completing a sentence of two years, nine months and 18 days.

The Maldives Correctional Service has confirmed his release from the high-security Maafushi prison.

He was among nine prisoners whose release was ordered by the Supreme Court on February 1, a shock ruling that was rescinded after a state of emergency was declared.

Hamid, a former president of the Maldives Chamber of Commerce, was arrested in Malaysia in October 2015 on suspicion of links to an alleged attempt to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen.

He was arrested by Malaysian police from a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, along with four other Maldivians. It came four days after then-vice president Ahmed Adeeb, a relative of Hamid, was arrested on the same charge upon his return to the country from an official trip.

Hamid was deported and brought back to the Maldives two days after his arrest.

In November 2015, he was released from police custody but immediately placed under arrest on a money laundering charge.

Hamid was convicted in June the following year of aiding and abetting the theft US$5 million. It was paid as a resort lease payment by Kuredu Holdings for the island of Maabinhuraa in Lhaviyani Atoll.

Prosecutors said the money was funnelled through Hamid’s Millenium Capital Managament.

The case was part of a historic corruption scandal involving the embezzlement of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.

Hamid’s residence in Malé was among several places raided in the wake of an explosion on the president’s speedboat on September 28, 2015, which the government says was caused by a bomb targeting the president.

Adeeb was found guilty over the assassination plot and handed a 15-year jail sentence.

The president’s former right-hand man is presently serving a combined 33-year jail term on multiple counts of corruption and terrorism.