Maldives arrest Former President on money laundering charges

2019-02-19 at 06:13

Maldivian authorities have arrested of former strongman president Abdulla Yameen over money laundering charges.

The arrest came after a court began a preliminary hearing into allegations that Yameen received nearly $1.5 million in illicit payments just before he lost his re-election bid in September.

A court official said, “Prosecutors said that Yameen had allegedly attempted to bribe witnesses,” adding that the former president will be taken to the Dhoonidhoo prison island near the capital.

Yameen, who came to power in 2013 and jailed many of his opponents or forced them into exile, had been summoned to the Criminal Court on Sunday to formally receive his indictment.

During his five-year tenure, Yameen relied heavily on China for political and financial support as he came under criticism over his dismal human rights record.

The Indian Ocean island nation of 340,000 people is heavily in debt to China. Authorities believe millions of dollars of Yameen could be stashed abroad, and have said that talks are underway with foreign entities to repatriate any cash found.

The court has already frozen Yameen’s local bank accounts holding about $6.5 million, a decision the former leader has contested.