Employees of Villa Air and Villa Resorts have voiced concerns over the non-payment of their salaries for the month of May amidst the conglomerate’s deepening financial crisis. Despite repeated attempts, the group’s representatives could not be reached for comment regarding the matter.

Multiple sources confirmed that salary payments for the past two to three months have been consistently delayed, deviating from the company’s usual practice of disbursing salaries before the 10th of each month. The mounting salary arrears have caused distress among the employees, who rely on their wages to support their livelihoods and fulfil their financial obligations.

Chairman and founder of Villa group of companies, and leader of Jumhooree Party (JP), Qasim Ibrahim, who is also Member of Parliament for Mamigili Constituency, recently disclosed that the financial situation of the company had significantly deteriorated. In an effort to overcome these challenges, Villa made the decision to sell Vaavedhi Faru, a lagoon located in the Kaafu Atoll, for a sum of US$20 million. However, the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) intervened and halted the sale, prompting Villa to threaten legal action against the commission and the Ministry of Tourism if they failed to provide an explanation for the decision within a seven-day period.

Speaking to a local media outlets, Qasim, who recently announced his candidacy for the upcoming Presidential Election, said the company’s financial struggles were exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He further acknowledged the difficulty in fulfilling salary obligations to Villa Air employees due to the prevailing financial difficulties, stating that the airline was on the verge of suspending its operations as a result.

The lagoon in question was acquired by a subsidiary of Villa through a legal proceeding. Despite being awarded ownership of the lagoon by the Supreme Court, the ACC launched an investigation into the transaction. However, the commission subsequently declared that there was no evidence of corruption in the case. The recent reopening of the case and subsequent halt of the lagoon sale have raised questions regarding the reasons behind these developments.

As Villa grapples with its financial woes and employees endure prolonged salary delays, concerns loom over the future stability of the company. The impact on the affected workers and their families remains a pressing issue, while they await the steps the group will take to address its financial issues.