Strada Private Limited’s request for MVR 14 million in damages as a result of the housing ministry’s decision to relocate Newport View, which was operating at Lonuziyaaraiy Kolhu, was refused by the High Court on Tuesday.
During the Yameen administration, Strada and the housing ministry inked a three-year deal to build a bridge viewing platform, a food outlet, and a parking space near Lonuziyaaraiy Kolhu.
Following the company’s request to develop a beverage outlet in the parking area, the housing ministry granted its request, relocating the parking area to a land west of the area and granting Strada an additional 2,464 square foot area not included in the agreement.
An investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) concluded that the deal to operate a beverage outlet violated open tender regulations, and that the housing ministry did not seek legal advice on the matter.
Strada had failed to make the rent payment under the agreement, which totalled MVR 1.98 million, according to the ACC.
The ACC further said that, while the housing ministry had the ability to nullify the agreement, it had made various amendments to the agreement over time that benefited the company.
The deal was amended to include the company receiving land to perform further activities, extending the agreement by 5 years, and contributing MVR 2 million to the state and building a futsal ground under CSR for the agreement extension.
In order to create a link road, the government repossessed the Strada-operated refreshment outlet, Chatime, on the bridge viewing platform. According to the ACC, letters relating to the incident demonstrated that the decision was made with Strada’s permission and that further revisions were made to the original agreement as a result.
But the company’s request for MVR 14.49 million in compensation made to the housing ministry, which sought advice from the President’s Office, was blocked at the time by the ACC.
Following that, the company filed a case with the Civil Court, demanding MVR 14.49 million in compensation, which ruled against Strada and ordered the company to return the land and pay the overdue rent amount to the state.
Strada later filed an appeal with the High Court. The three-judge bench unanimously ruled against the company, upholding the Civil Court’s decision.
The High Court ruled that, even though the company had negotiated an agreement with the government for MVR 14.49 million in compensation, Strada did not have a sufficient cause to receive it.
The ACC has recently recommended that the Prosecutor General’s Office pursue corruption charges against Male’ City Mayor, former Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu, for allegedly giving Strada an unfair advantage in relation with the bridge viewing platform arrangement. Muizzu has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.