Woman claims she was 'unaware' husband gave her drug money, faces prison

Ramiza Ali at the Criminal Court on September 28, 2021.

A woman on trial for money laundering told the Criminal Court on Tuesday that she had been unaware the money her husband gave her was obtained though drug trafficking. 

Reading the charge against her, the public prosecutor told the court that married couple Ramiza Ali and Hassan Looth, along with two other associates, was involved in smuggling and large-scale trafficking of drugs in Maldives. 

He also told the court that a large amount of cash was found in a raid on the couple’s residence, M. Kuredhimaage in Male’ City, which was conducted based on an intelligence report of drug trafficking operations being run out of four properties linked with them. 

The police found MVR 16,000 in cash from a locker in a room situated on the second floor of their residence, as well as a bag with MVR 1 million, and another with MVR 450,000. 

Ramiza Ali (top R) at the Criminal Court on September 28, 2021.

The prosecutor said that in addition to the cash discovered in the raid, Ramiza’s husband transferred MVR 95,510 to a saving investment account opened under her name in Maldives Islamic Bank, MVR 194,170 to an account under her name in Bank of Maldives, and MVR 103,370 to an account under their son’s name in Maldives Islamic Bank. 

The prosecutor said that while the MVR 1,466,000 in cash found from their residence and the MVR 393,050 transferred by Looth is suspected of being money obtained through drug trafficking, Ramiza had used the money. 

Ramiza faces 5-15 years in prison and an MVR 100,000-MVR 10 million fine if found guilty of the charge. 

Ramiza told the court the charge isn’t clear to her, and that many of the events mentioned in the charge took place while she had been out of the city. 

Her lawyer, Ali Shah said that his client had been living in GDh. Thinadhoo, and that she arrived in Male’ a week after her husband’s arrest.  

He said that he does not believe using money on a personal bank account is plausible grounds for a money laundering charge. 

“I have never used it knowing Hassan Looth obtained the money by selling drugs,” said Ramiza. 

Her lawyer said that Looth had also earned income through driving speedboats and renting out properties. He also said that Looth has yet to be convicted of drug trafficking. 

The judge concluded the hearing after giving both the prosecution and defense to submit evidence.