This is a re-publication of an investigation article published first in now discontinued dhivehiobserver.com
Khadheeja Hassan and Guardian Agency Pvt. Ltd.
One of the latest of injustices from Khadheeja Hassan came when she decided to part ways with her business partner with a few of the company’s assets including the profitable Ranveli Village & Spa resort.
Before we go into details of the Guardian Agency affair, we should note that Khadheeja was a partner of the company for the better part of the last ten years. She was invited to join the board and be an equal partner based on private agreements between Guardian’s owner Mohamed Naeem (Monaza) whom she was married to until recently. All agreements between Khadheeja and Naeem are believed to have been made based on the trust of husband and wife. As a partner she was not actively involved in the day-to-day running of the company or any of its other businesses.
Naeem is also an elected independent member for Laamu Atoll in the Peoples Special Majlis. The Majlis is currently amending the country’s constitution following pressure from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
The company has been moderately successful in its business ventures and is the main parent company of many of its subsidiaries. Although somewhat successful, the company also has a considerable debt which they had been paying off regularly. These debts, her failing marriage with Mohamed Naeem, and the uncertainty that she could remain in the Maldives when the current government falls, is believed to have been the reasons for her actions.
We know from a letter obtained from the Tourism Ministry that she began proceedings against Guardian Agency and Naeem on the 6th of September 2004. Naeem at the time was in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on his Umra pilgrimage. The letter addressed to the then Tourism Minister Hon. Hassan Sobir (currently Maldivian High Commissioner to the UK with a series of corruption allegations against him) is reproduced below:
Notable mentions on this letter are her legal counsel being Shah Hussain & Co. of which her daughter Dheena Hussain (senior Lawyer for the Defence Ministry) is the “Hussain” in Shah Hussain & Co. and Shuaib Shah is the Bangladeshi son-in-law of President Gayyoom. The other notable fact is Rifaath Jaleel as Financial Consultant. Rifaath is also the husband of Dheena Hussain and is brother to the Finance Minister Hon. Mohamed Jaleel (now moved to Ministry of Trade). The use of undue influence and the collaboration of Hon. Hassan Sobir is a key factor for the Tourism Ministry to grant her requests.
Oddly enough none of the ministries or the government departments that received a copy of this letter thought that that the unilateral decision from her to change the operating license to her name was out of the ordinary or even illegal. It is believed that all key people in these respective government bodies were already aware of her intentions and were all collaborators themselves.
The most important omission on Khadheeja’s behalf in this letter is her failure to send a copy of the letter to Naeem or Guardian Agency. On the 6th of September she was still making plans and securing support from corrupt government officials for her intended agenda of bankrupting Naeem.
On the 9th of September the Tourism Ministry granted her request and cancelled the operating license held by Guardian Agency and granted her a new operating license. This is a disturbing development for all investors in a Tourism Industry with nearly 80-90% foreign investors in collaboration with locals. Our enquiries with European tour operators have revealed a fast loosing trust in regards to investing in the Maldives. They are wary about investing in a country that can cancel operating licenses and investments overturned or transferred simply based on a “curtesy note” from influential individuals. In the month that followed Minister Hassan Sobir was quietly transferred to head the Maldives High Commission in the UK.
On the 10th of September the resort was formally occupied by Khadheeja Hassan and her brother Ali Manik of M. Gulisthaanuge. On that day, all employees of Ranveli were gathered to inform that they will not have any dealings with Guardian Agency Private Limited anymore for anything and that either Ali Manik or Khadheeja herself would be dealing with all issues regarding Ranveli and its employees.
What followed was removal of employees (without any notice) loyal to Guardian Agency and Naeem. 5 employee contracts were terminated on the day Khadheeja took over Ranveli. When the first five were initially terminated, according to one employee who would like to be known just as ‘Ali’, Manik gave reason that “we do not want any of Naeem’s employees working with us any more”.
Ali was on leave in Male’ when his contract was terminated. According to him he was about to call the new Ranveli management office to arrange transfer for him to return to his job after completing his off period when he received a call from Ahmed (MO) who works at the Male’ office of Khadheeja’s new management for Ranveli. MO informed Ali that “there was no point for him to return as his services were no longer needed”. Upon Ali’s request as to why he was being terminated, MO only cited Ali’s work as being ‘unsatisfactory’ to the new management. Due to the loss of Ali’s income, he claims that 5 people in his family including his aging mother who are financially dependant on him have suffered greatly in the last 6 to 7 months that he has been trying to get compensation for.
Ali who is from Male’ has since then signed up for MDP and is getting ready to present their case to MDP.
In the days that followed, another 50 employees left their jobs after wages and salaries that were due were refused by Khadheeja and Ali Manik. Among the people whose wages were not paid included 28 foreign nationals who had to go back to their own countries empty handed after months attempting to get compensation from Khadheeja Hassan.
Out of the 48 that left the company, including the 5 that was terminated, 27 were Maldivians with outstanding wages amounting to MRF 114, 662. Six were Bangladeshi nationals with outstanding wages amounting to MRF 27,969.42. Two Nepalese nationals with outstanding wages amounting MRF 8,289.80. Six Sri Lankan Nationals with outstanding wages amounting to MRF 21, 428.10 and Twelve Indian Nationals with wages amounting MRF 46,576.86.
There were also 2 Philipino employees that worked at the spa that also left willingly after their salaries were refused. We were unable to get the figures of what was owed to them.
Another interviewee who would simply like to be known as ‘Ibrahim’ along with few other fellow Adduan’s whose employment were terminated requested to meet with the Tourism Minister Dr. Musthapha Luthfy and were met by Musthapha. According to Ibrahim, Dr. Musthapha denied any knowledge of their situation and sent them away without anything conclusive. After 6 months of trying to get what is rightfully theirs, these Addu employees are getting ready to take their case to MDP Addu MP’s Ibrahim Shareef and Aslam. They want their case to be pleaded in the parliament.
Ibrahim claimed that he has 7 financial dependants in his family and have greatly suffered due to the loss if his income.
It is our belief that there are hundreds of people who has directly and indirectly suffered because Khadheeja has refused to pay the wages and salaries of those that were terminated.
On 12th September 2004, she made her next move. A fax copy obtained from our sources from the Tourism Ministry read as follows:
“Mr. Mohamed Naeem
This is to notify Guardian Agency Private Limited that as of today 12th September 2004, I, Khadheeja Hassan (the leasehold owner and holder of the current operating license to Ranveli Village) will be managing and operating Ranveli Village, Ari Atoll under my own name without any involvement by either yourself or Guardian Agency Pvt Ltd. I therefore, advise you to refrain from giving any instruction representing Ranveli Village either as Managing Director of Guardian Agency Private Limited or in any other capacity.”
In her fax she further requests Guardian Agency and Naeem to inform and be made aware of Khadheeja of all and any dues/permits that are currently due or to be due shortly to any government Authority. The fax was signed by Khadheeja herself as “Leasehold owner and holder of the current Operating License of Ranveli Village, Ari Atoll”. A carbon copy of the fax was sent to the Tourism Ministry. At a meeting held at the Tourism Ministry on this day, Mr. Ali Niyaz (Legal Officer for the Tourism Ministry) made it very clear on the position of the Tourism Ministry on the matter.
On the 16th of September a letter was received to the Tourism Ministry from Mr. Shaheen Hameed acting in his capacity as legal counsel for Guardian Agency and Naeem. This letter is reproduced below with courtesy of a Tourism Ministry employee who wishes to remain anonymous.
The current Attorney General Dr. Hassan Saeed giving his legal opinion to the current Tourism Minister Hon. Mustapha Luthfy agrees “in his legal opinion that this was done illegally and unlawfully and should be overturned”. Nothing was done by the Attorney Generals Office to correct the wrong that was done to Guardian Agency and Mohamed Naeem.
On the 19th of September Khadheeja sent a fax to Guardian Agency requesting to give her all documents and information that she would require in the day-to-day running of the resort. It is reproduced below curtesy of Ranveli staff who wishes to remain anonymous. Some Ranveli who has been unhappy about the new management has been quite helpful in preparing this report.
On the 20th of September Ms. Khadheeja made her most calculated move of all in her personal battle with Mr. Naeem. While still remaining in her official capacity as the Senior Executive Director of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), she wrote a personal letter to all the banks in the Maldives. These included banks that Guardian Agency Pvt Ltd has no business interests with. As a result, the banks fearing any retaliation from Ms. Khadheeja Hassan that might endanger their interests as banks operating in the Maldives, promptly freezed 13 bank accounts belonging to Guardian Agency Pvt Ltd, other sisters companies of Guardian Agency and all private accounts belonging to Mr. Mohamed Naeem resulting in huge financial losses to all the companies mentioned and Mr. Naeem himself. This constitutes as abuse of power in its quintessential form. A leaked copy of the letter sent to State Bank of India is reproduced below. The letters sent to all the other banks had the same text with the recipients name changed.
Nearly three weeks later on the 10th of October, in response to this letter by Mr. Shaheen Hameed, a letter (No. 88-LR/MIS/2004/2666) was sent to Guardian Agency by Mr. Ali Niyaz informing Mr. Naeem “that if Guardian Agency Private Limited opposes the Ministry’s decision to award a new operating license to Ms. Khadheeja Hassan, Guardian Agency should inform the ministry of this matter before the 16th of October. The document should be clearly marked so as it can be identifiable as a document from your company”. A copy of the same letter was sent to Ms. Khadheeja Hassan also on the same day. This appears as one of the most ridiculous responses from the Tourism Ministry on the matter. Nevertheless Guardian Agency did the needful and submitted a formal opposition to the Tourism Ministry’s decision.
More leaked documents from the Tourism Ministry reveal on the 9th of November 2004, Guardian Agency informed the Tourism Ministry of its legal proceedings against Ms. Khadheeja Hassan and queries about the lack of response from the ministry on their earlier enquiries.
Reproduced below is a letter from Guardian Agency legal counsel Mr. Shaheen Hameed.
Four days later, the Tourism Ministry informs Mr. Shaheen Hameed of their position through their Senior Legal Officer Mr. Ali Niyaz. The letter is reproduced below.
During the time that followed Khadheeja Hassan got a divorce from Mr. Naeem in December. The court proceedings dragged its foot for the next 4 months.
On the 25th of April 2005 Guardian Agency made a public announcement in the local newspaper Haveeru Daily. The public notice is reproduced below.
One the 2nd of May 2005, Mr. Naeem wrote a letter to the president of the republic. In the letter Mr. Naeem reveals that the resort was purchased for US$ 432,500 of his own money. He makes note of the fact that Khadheeja did not spend a single cent in the purchase of the resort whilst agreeing that she is a 50% shareholder of the company Guardian Agency Pvt Ltd.
Naeem points that whilst the registration of the resort was under her name, it does not mean it is an explicit legal proof that the investment in the resort also belonged to her. He goes on to say that the actions of the Tourism Ministry in cancelling the operating license granted to Guardian Agency and issuing Khadheeja with a sole operating licence an injustice done to him under the laws of the country. He further states that it is his belief that undue influence was used to achieve that cancellation of the operating license. Naeem goes on to update the Presidents of the events that has taken place up to now and how slow and unfair the process has been to date.
Naeem reminds the president that he is, according to the Tourism Minster a person who has the right to enquire and ask the president about his rights.
Naeem further states in his letter that because of the way things has gone so far, that it has crossed his mind that maybe Khadheeja may have special permission to be treated above the laws of the country as the government has constantly given a blind eye to her actions. He also asks the President if this is true.
He also asks curiously since the laws of the country state that all citizens are equal in front of the law, why has the government not done anything to restrict the illegal acts of Khadheeja Hassan. He also asks specifically is it because that Khadheeja is the head of Maldives Monetary Authority that government is allowing her to do as she wishes?
In his 3 page letter Naeem mentions the plight of his employees and the US$ 1354.24 a-day interest that Guardian Agency is incurring on various loans and overdrafts the company has with its banks. The letter ends with a request to the President to uphold justice and to instruct the Tourism Ministry to revert back to the previous status quo regarding Ranveli Village.
Naeem also re-tells a conversation he had with the then Tourism Minister Dr. Mustapha Luthfy, when he Luthfy agreed “the cancellation and transfer of the operating licence to Khadheeja was done illegally”. He also tells the president of conversation between Ali Niyaz who is legal counsel for the Tourism Ministry. Ali Niyaz has also agreed many time it was done illegally. Ali Niyaz had also said that regardless of how illegal it is they are unwilling to overturn the initial Tourism Ministry because of Khadheeja’s influence.
He also tells the president about how many times he had written to the Ministry of Justice to speed up the process as the frozen bank accounts and other issues are directly related to the salaries of more that 200 people.
Naeem closes the letter asking the president’s (in his capacity as the chief justice of the country and the highest executive of the nation) help in seeking justice. The letter was attached to all documents relating to Ranveli and proof of ownership of all investments on the island.
We tried to obtain a copy of the letter but were unable to do so.
On the 15th the President responded in its typical fashion with a single sentence letter. It read “since the issue of Ranveli Village is in courts at this moment, it is the procedure of this office to not to comment on such matters.” On the top left hand corner of the letter had the President’s slogan for the year. It read “the relationships of the citizens – life of the nation”. We were also unable to get a copy of this through our contacts in the president’s office.
A similar letter was also sent by Mr. Naeem to the Tourism Ministry on the 11th of May. On the 17th a response was sent by Mr. Ali Niyaz of the ministry echoing the response from the President’s office on the 15th.
On the 22nd of May, Naeem received a letter from Shah, Hussain & Co acting on behalf of State Bank of India (SBI). The letter threatens Naeem claiming that all overdue payments should be made immediately or the bank will be forced to file petition to wind up the company for failure to pay debts as well as filing a suit in the Maldives Civil Court for recovery of unpaid debt. Now we know that Khadheeja was the one who instructed SBI on 20th September 2004 to not to allow Guardian or Naeem to operate any of their accounts. What is more striking is the banks decision to pursue any remaining debts the company might have with the bank through lawyers who are also the same as Khadheeja’s. This could hardly be coincidence.
The loans that SBI is mentioning are loans taken under both Khadheeja and Naeem’s name to upgrade Ranveli. The loans were taken by all companies that Naeem and Khadheeja has shares of. The bank is in actual fact helpless as to how to recover their debts ahs Khadheeja is the head of MMA and is chasing Naeem due to instructions to Khadheeja.
Dheena Hussain was instrumental in shaping this illegal and unethical behaviour against Naeem by request from her mother Khadheeja Hassan.
On the 26th of May Mr. Naeem responded the Tourism Ministry’s letter dated on the 17th. In the letter Naeem says that he is saddened by the refusal of the ministry to correct their illegal actions against Guardian Agency. He goes on to say as humans, we are all capable of making mistakes and it is up to us to correct these mistakes when we realise them. A copy of the letter is reproduced below.
The ministry never replied to this letter. To this day Naeem constantly writes to relevant government departments and makes regular visits to get justice. The case in the courts of Maldives has been at a very slaw pace and has only had six hearings since the whole fiasco began out of which Khadheeja and her lawyers had been a no-show for 4 of them. It is believe the justice system of the Maldives is slow to respond to this matter because of the influence of Khadheeja Hassan.
Khadheeja had also stolen from Guardian Agency Pvt Ltd. Stationary with the company letterhead and is using these to write letters to the banks that Guardian had accounts with making illegal decisions on behalf of the company.
Khadheeja had also launched a bid to claim money from the insurers of Ranveli Village, Janashakti Insurance Company of Sri Lanka. She filed a claim for 1.2 million dollars citing damages from the Boxing Day tsunami that affected the nation. The insurance company sent a team of inspectors to the resort and surveyed the damages that Khadheeja claims to have happened. Upon their inspection it was found that Ranveli is one of least damaged resorts in the Maldives and the owners should consider themselves to be lucky. Regardless, the insurers concluded there were some damages and they agreed to pay out USD 200,000. Khadheeja considered this to be an insult to her. She summoned the members of the insurance company to MMA during official hours for a meeting. At the meeting she kept say that it was insult to her that they are only offering her 200,000 while she has made a claim for 1.2 million. She also asked them whether they (the insurance company) knew who she was and how much power her position wielded.
Failing to make full claims on her last attempt, she files for another one. As recent weeks has seen storms hitting nation wide, she files for $600,000 on already worn out building in the island. Again it was taken as a joke by Janashakti as they were fully aware of the state of the building on the island. From this point the question that begs an answer is, Is she really stupid? Fallings income due to a slump in the tourist industry must be the factor that is driving her to make money any way she can. Khadheeja honestly believed that she could get away with filing false insurance claims, waving her position in MMA.
In the meantime Khadheeja is currently operating Ranveli Island Resort and Spa under her own name. She had opened accounts in Bank of Maldives, and transferred funds illegally previously held by Guardian Agency accounts in SBI. To be this corrupt is so easy when you are the head of the country’s central bank.
Additional notes and disclaimer (April 2017): Mohamed Naeem (Monaza) is my father. It’s my understanding that Khadhaaja Hassan is actively seeking a buyer for the island. Any potential buyer should know that my family has ongoing lawsuits against Khadheeja and for the recovery of the island to its rightful ownership. We would continue these legal cases against the infringement of the rights of my father and family to the desired conclusion regardless of time and cost involved. Please be aware of the issues surrounding the property.