Is your next dream holiday on ill-gotten land?
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.
Most of the deals were part of a scheme carried out by imprisoned former Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and his cronies, with the help of President Abdulla Yameen, over just 18 months in 2014 and 2015. It involved leasing islands to developers without legally mandated public bids through a state company, the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC). Some of the islands were given out at steep discounts. Much of the money was then embezzled by Adeeb and his associates. As a whole, the government lost out on at least $79 million, according to a special audit of the MMPRC carried out in 2016.
This map shows who got the islands, when, and for how much. You can also see which hotel brands have opened — or plan to open — resorts on the sites. Thanks to help from Macroscope Media, the map also includes recent satellite images, allowing you to see the new development on many of these sites.
We’ve also added some deals that were not part of Adeeb’s MMPRC scheme, but are still interesting. These include joint ventures between the government and private developers, including Saudi royals, where the benefit for the Maldivian people seems doubtful.
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Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who heads the country’s top anti-corruption body, was flagged by global banking giant HSBC as having financial links to the infamous Gupta family.