Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for money laundering and bribery, has argued during an appeal hearing at the High Court that the Maldives’ banking system is not conducive to money laundering. 

This argument comes as a counter to the state’s claim that he attempted to deceive the source of the funds deposited in his accounts.

During the appeal, Yameen emphasised that money launderers generally operate in countries with bank secrecy laws, a criterion the Maldives does not meet. 

The prosecution countered by citing a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report on the Risk of Money Laundering to Financial Instruments, stating that money could be laundered in various ways including transfers between accounts and activation of dormant accounts.

The prosecution laid out a detailed timeline of alleged money laundering activities linked to Yameen. These include multiple high-value transactions, such as a deposit of US$1.2 million into Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) in February 2017, which took the total account balance to US$3.4 million.

Yameen, however, called into question the state’s charges, pointing out that no court has proven that the money in question, especially that from his co-defendant Yoosuf Naeem, was obtained through unlawful means. 

He also noted that the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has the highest responsibility for monitoring money laundering, suggesting that the onus was on them to identify any illegal activities.