The former vice president of the Maldives has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to money laundering and embezzlement under orders from the former president.
The Criminal Court on Monday night also fined Ahmed Adeeb $129,800. The prison sentence, which will be shortened by one year because he served time after a previous conviction on the same charges, also covered charges of corruption and possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Adeeb was a protégé to former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom during the early years of his presidency between 2013 and 2018.
He had been sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2016 for several counts including masterminding a blast in a presidential speedboat in which Yameen’s wife was wounded.
Under the new President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, however, many cases perceived to be politically motivated were revisited. Adeeb was freed from all charges after Yameen lost reelection in 2018.
Solih won a landslide victory that September despite allegations of electoral interference by incumbent president Yameen. Yameen has been accused of steadily eroding the Maldives’ fledgling democracy; Solih came to power promising to reverse those trends, undo the politicization of the judiciary and independent oversight bodies, as well as fight corruption at top levels.
After his release, Adeeb testified against Yameen in court, saying he was party to his former boss’ corrupt dealings. At an August 2019 open hearing, Adeeb told a criminal court that he had done illegal things on the advice of Yameen. In particular, he admitted to laundering $1 million obtained through a corrupt deal leasing out an island for tourist resort development. The company later transferred the money to Yameen’s account, Adeeb said.
“The things I am saying in court today, I don’t mind getting a sentence for saying these things. The public should get their funds back,” he said during his testimony.
Notably, between his initial release and his rearrest, Adeeb tried to flee the Maldives illegally in a fishing boat, He was detained by the Indian coast guard and deported back to the Maldives, where he was immediately arrested. Charges were refiled, and Adeeb pleaded guilty to all charges, including money laundering, embezzlement, and using his prominent position to gain undue advantage.
Yameen is now serving a five-year prison term for having facilitated Adeeb to launder $1 million obtained through corrupt deals.
By Mohamed Sharuhan for the Associated Press in Male, Maldives with additional reporting by The Diplomat.