1 March 2018, Male’: The Maldivian oil tanker that was recently spotted by the Japanese air force in suspected sanctions busting activities appears to be linked to President Yameen’s family.
On Tuesday, the Japanese government released photos of the tanker, the Xin Yuan 18, which show the tanker pulled up alongside a North Korean vessel at night. Both vessels have their lights switched off. It is believed that the vessels were exchanging crude oil, in violation of UN sanctions on North Korea.
Despite denials by the Maldivian Government, independent shipping registers show that the oil tanker Xin Yuan 18 is registered in the Maldives, with the Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) 455123170. The vessel also carries the Maldivian flag.
Documents viewed by the opposition show that the Xin Yuan 18 is owned by Ha Fa Trade International, a company based in Hong Kong.
A Maldivian company called Green Box, which is owned by Colonel Ziyad, applied for a mortgage at the Bank of Maldives worth US $4.5 million. The Xin Yuan 18, along with property belonging to Adheel Jaleel, was used as collateral for the mortgage.
Adheel Jaleel is President Yameen’s nephew. Green Box’s owner, Colonel Ziyad, is a former Colonel in the MNDF, and a close confidant of General Shiyam, the Chief of the Defence Forces.
The Bank of Maldives’ board reportedly approved the mortgage. Adheel later withdrew his property as collateral from the mortgage, so the Bank of Maldives did not disperse the funds.
The exact nature of the relationship between Ha Fa Trade International and Green Box remains unclear. According to Green Box’s website, one of the company’s main focuses is the “importing, bunkering, resale and re-exporting of fuel and related products.” Green Box’s company address is: 1 Floor, H Gadhamoo Building, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male’.
The Maldivian Democratic Party is extremely concerned that President Yameen has been caught up, once again, in an illegal scheme to smuggle oil in violation of UN sanctions. In the early 2000s, President Yameen was head of an international smuggling ring that provided oil to the Burmese military junta, in breach of UN sanctions.
Grant Thornton, an international investigative firm, was hired by President Nasheed’s administration to investigate the oil smuggling to Burma.
A case against Yameen for fraud was lodged in a court in Singapore. However, days before the case was due to be heard in 2012, President Nasheed was deposed in a coup d’etat.
The Grant Thornton investigation was terminated by the administration that replaced President Nasheed.
Details of Yameen’s Burmese smuggling ring were also included in the recent Al Jazeera documentary, Stealing Paradise.