MALE (Reuters) - Police in the Maldives said they have frozen the bank accounts of former president Abdulla Yameen as they investigate allegations by state bodies that he conducted “illicit” deals, some involving Chinese infrastructure projects, whilst leader.
Yameen lost a presidential election in September and the new government of his successor, Mohammed Ibrahim Solih, seen as close to India, has been trying to determine the extent of Chinese loans used to finance a construction boom in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The police said on Saturday a total of 100 million Maldivian Rufiyaa ($6.58 million) in both U.S. dollars and the local currency have been frozen as a part of the investigations.
Yameen has denied any wrongdoing and said that he took on loans to accelerate economic development. He could not be contacted on Saturday.
“We have noticed that several large transfers of money were conducted along with other transactions during the presidency ... in bank accounts operated under his name,” the statement said.
“Yameen answered all questions posed to him during today’s questioning and said that he will fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation,” it added.
Critics have alleged that contracts were given to Chinese companies at inflated prices, such as a bridge connecting the capital Male to the main airport of the palm-fringed islands famous for their luxury diving resorts.
While Yameen had strengthened ties of the archipelago of 400,000 people with China, his surprise loss in the election has raised the influence of traditional partner India.
($1 = 15.2000 rufiyaa)
Reporting by Mohamed Junayd; writing by Ranga Sirilal and Krishna N. Das; Editing by Alexandra Hudson