Jailed former vice president Ahmed Adeeb has been asked to pay MVR74 million (US$4.7 million) as compensation for losses incurred in a hotel development deal.
Adeeb is accused of failing to collect 50-year lease extension fees for the Nasandhuraa Palace Hotel when leaseholder rights were sold to NPH Investments while he was tourism minister, according to a letter sent to him on Thursday by the finance minister.
The Maafushi prison inmate was ordered to pay the full amount within one week from March 29.
A finance ministry official told Sun that Adeeb could face legal action if he fails to repay since he was found culpable by an Anti-Corruption Commission probe.
But Adeeb’s lawyer Moosa Siraj disputed the finance ministry’s authority to demand payment, citing a 2012 Supreme Court precedent that “clearly shows that no one can be ordered to pay money to the state based on the findings of an ACC report”.
“No court has ruled that VP Adeeb owes money to the state,” he tweeted.
Adeeb is serving a 33-year prison sentence on multiple counts of terrorism and corruption. He is also facing prosecution on numerous counts of abuse of authority over the embezzlement of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.
Nasandhura Palace Hotel, located in front of the airport ferries, was managed by the government since its opening in 1981.
The waterfront property was closed in mid-2015 after a project was awarded to Galaxy Enterprises to develop a 15-storey luxury hotel with apartments and a convention centre. But the contract was annulled during Adeeb’s tenure as tourism minister and the leaseholder rights were sold to NPH Investments for a 50-year period.