Abdulla Ziyath, former managing director at the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and state’s third witness in former President Abdulla Yameen’s money laundering trial, has admitted to acting unlawfully “on the president’s orders.”
Ziyath, who was sentenced to eight years in prison over his involvement in the embezzlement, is currently under house arrest and was presented to court on Thursday.
At the hearing, the defence had bombarded Ziyath with questions regarding MMPRC regulations, including whether the state-run MMPRC had any agreements with private companies.
Ziyath responded that they have agreements with private companies, including the company implicated in the MMPRC embezzlement- SoF. He added that this was foreign exchange transaction agreement; SoF was not authorized for foreign exchange transactions at the time.
The former MMPRC managing director also put various blame on then leader Yameen, saying that he had acted on Yameen's orders.
He added that Yameen had told him to follow then Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb’s instructions.
Yameen also questioned Ziyath at the hearing, and repeatedly questioned him on the procedures regarding acquisition costs.
Ziyath said that acquisition cost details are not shared with the MMPRC board, and that they are dealt with as per the president’s orders.
While Yameen is to have given such orders via phone, the former president denied communicating with him via phone, and further claimed that he had met with Ziyath “only once during police interrogation.”
The defence also questioned Ziyath on whether officials from any government institutions had met with him or instructed him to testify in a certain way.
Responding no, he said that he was presented to police headquarters to go through his statement, given that it was given over six months prior but that he was not told what to say.
While he was also questioned on whether MMPRC had followed procedures in leasing islands, including seeking counsel in deciding on cost to lease island, Ziyath said no but that this "is how the previous administration worked.”