Former President Abdulla Yameen was cleared of money laundering charges by the Supreme Court today, allowing him to compete in the forthcoming presidential elections in 2023.
The Criminal Court convicted Yameen guilty of laundering USD 1 million from the sale of GA. Vodamula on November 28, 2019. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a USD 5 million fine.
The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court emphasized that the discrepancy between the cheque number placed into Yameen’s account and the cheque number on the SOF Private Limited’s account statement raised serious doubts about whether the money placed into his account was from the MMPRC embezzlement case.
The Supreme Court held that because the mismatched cheque numbers are a crucial issue in the case and the prosecution has failed to establish a sufficient justification, Yameen should be granted the benefit of the doubt.
Furthermore, even though lower courts had established that the money in his account prompted suspicions that it had been obtained via illicit means, the Supreme Court ruled against it. Money laundering legislation deems it a crime if the accused kept the funds in his account while knowing or having reasonable suspicions that the funds were obtained illegally.
The country’s highest court also ruled that the testimony of the case’s two key witnesses, former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and former MD of MMPRC Abdulla Ziyath, was acquired erroneously since they had acknowledged to the crime, rendering them untrustworthy.
The Supreme Court stressed that the prosecution had not produced further evidence to corroborate the testimony of the two witnesses, hence adopting their testimony violated the legal framework.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that Yameen’s acts relating to the USD 1 million were unconstitutional and beyond the president’s authority.
The Court also stated that the State retains the authority to examine the origin of the USD 1 million, but that it must do so without compromising Yameen’s rights under Article 60 of the Constitution.