Paradise Leased: The Theft of the Maldives

Credit: OCCRP

Maldives tourism isn’t all swaying palm trees and white sand beaches. The truth is something far uglier.

Thanks to a trove of leaked files, OCCRP reporters have uncovered the details of an audacious multi-million dollar scheme that saw dozens of Maldivian islands leased out to developers in no-bid deals — and the money then stolen. While local tycoons and international investors cashed in, the people of this island paradise in the Indian Ocean saw precious little.

For the first time, reporters have tracked the deals, finding what was handed out, to whom, and for how much.

The revelations also include fresh evidence that implicates the Maldives’ authoritarian president, Abdulla Yameen, in the scandal.

Stories

How Paradise Was Carved Up And Sold

In just 18 months, corrupt officials in the Maldives handed swathes tropical islands to developers in no-bid deals, and then ran off with tens of millions of dollars. New evidence implicates President Abdulla Yameen in the scheme.

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Interactive map

Interactive Map: Explore the Maldives Island Deals

This interactive map lets you explore nearly 60 questionable deals in which the Maldives government leased out islands and submerged coral lagoons for development as tourist resorts.

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The Project Team

Coordinator: Aubrey Belford

Reporters: Aubrey Belford, Zaheena Rasheed, Aisha Kehoe Down

Editors: Ilya Lozovsky, Maxim Edwards, Drew Sullivan, Jody McPhillips

Fact Checking: Birgit Brauer, Olena Goncharova, Dumitru Stoianov

Interactive Map: Emina Muratovic-Kaldzija

Images: Edin Pasovic

Video: Sergiu Brega, Matt Sarnecki, Jonathan Wrate

Layout: Adem Kuric, Michal "rysiek" Wozniak

Promotion: Stella Roque