The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s self-exiled chairperson appeared on Raajje TV Sunday night with new corruption allegations against President Abdulla Yameen, days after the broadcasting regulator reprimanded the opposition-aligned station for airing “unproven allegations” against the first couple.
Raajje TV was ordered to stop its popular talk show, Fala Surukhee, if it was unwilling to broadcast the show with a five-minute delay. The reconstituted Maldives Broadcasting Commission claimed a February 9 interview with Ali Waheed carried “unsubstantiated lies.”
The former MP had challenged Yameen to dispute evidence showing that a local company implicated in the Maldives biggest ever corruption scandal had deposited US$500,000 to his bank account at the Maldives Islamic Bank.
Appearing on the talk show Sunday night – which was broadcast with a delay – Waheed claimed Yameen has been depositing “suitcases of black money” in Singaporean banks, including the United Overseas Bank.
The cash is being stored in 10 by 24 inches boxes, he added.
“The lease of the boxes alone cost MVR65,000 per month,” Waheed said, claiming the UOB deposit boxes were opened under Yameen’s name in 2009.
Yameen has previously faced criticism over his frequent unofficial visits to Singapore, especially during the early days of his presidency, which fuelled speculation of the president seeking medical treatment for a serious illness.
In 2014, Yameen had traveled to Singapore at least five times between July 29 and the end of November. This included two stop-overs in Singapore – one in August and one in November, 2014 – on the way to China and Nepal, respectively.
Waheed also alleged that Yameen has “millions of dollars” in an HSBC account in Singapore, claiming the president is abusing diplomatic immunities and privileges to launder ill-gotten funds through the Singaporean banking system.
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesperson, rejected repeated calls by The Maldives Independent for a response to the allegations. His phone was later switched off.
Speaking to The Maldives Independent, MP Ali Arif of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives dismissed Ali Waheed’s accusations as “completely false and baseless”.
“MDP is a party that has always engaged in defamation, insults and name-calling,” the MP for the constituency of Haa Alif Kelaa said.
“The MDP paints individual’s in different lights in different circumstances, depending on the most convenient and favourable narrative for themselves, regardless of the truth. Look how Colonel Nazim went from ‘traitor’ Nazim to former defence minister, colonel retired, Mohamed Nazim.”
Ali Waheed had also challenged Yameen to contest the claims in an “open court,” but discounted the possibility of corruption allegations being proved in a Maldivian court of law as the executive has “hijacked” the judiciary.
Since the embezzlement of nearly US$80 million from state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation funds was exposing in a damning audit report released in February, Yameen has insisted that his former deputy was solely responsible for the theft.