Qasim Ibrahim

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Member of Parliament, Presidential Candidate 2013, Speaker of the Constitutional Assembly 2005-2008

Qasim Ibrahim (also known as Buruma Qasim) is a prominent businessman, philanthropist and politician in the Maldives. One of the wealthiest businessman in the country, his net worth has not been officially made public but is believed to be in excess of US$920 million. He is the founder and chairman of Villa Group, the largest Company in the Maldives with more than 6,000 employees.[1][2] He is the founder of Villa Foundation, his philanthropic activity organisation, which helps Maldivians with Health and Educational difficulties by offering medical assistance and scholarships. He has since added Villa College to his philanthropy profile which is now amongst the best colleges in the country.[3]

He ran as the presidential candidate of the Jumhooree Party in the 2013 elections, losing in the first round.

Business career[edit]

Ibrahim began his career in 1969 as a clerk at the government hospital in Malé. In 1973 he left the hospital to work as manager at M/S Alia Furniture Mart. Subsequently, he worked for Crescent, a trading organisation of the Government, for a short period.[4]

In 1974 he joined an outlet of the Maldivian government's Bodu Store, now known as the State Trading Organisation. Two years later, he set up his own trading business in commodities such as rice, tobacco, diesel and kerosene, which proved to be profitable and the business experienced rapid growth. He later expanded his business with a small loan of US$ 2,000 from State Bank of India (SBI), which is still his primary banker.

After four years, Ibrahim was able to purchase his first shipping vessel, an old fishing vessel converted to carry cargo and oil, to facilitate oil imports. By April 14, 1986, Ibrahim's business was registered under the name of Villa Shipping and Trading Company Limited (Villa). Since then, the company has diversified its business with substantial national share in diverse industries such as tourism, transport, construction, manufacturing, Gas, Cement trade, Media and Communication, in addition to general trading, with Sole Distributorships of international products. Shell and Agfa are among the brand names represented by Villa in the Maldives.[5]

Private jet landed in Maamigili Airport

The shareholders of the holding company, Villa Shipping & Trading Company Private Limited (VSTC) are Qasim Ibrahim and one of his wives, Rabia Hussain, holding 95% and 5% respectively. For strategic reasons, Villa Shipping (Singapore) Pte Limited was incorporated in Singapore on December 19, 1991, a 100% subsidiary. The paid up capital by Villa Shipping (Singapore) now stands at S$500,000.[5]

On 23 July 1997, with the primary objective of promoting Villa resorts. Villa Holidays Touristik GmbH opened in Frankfurt, Germany and was incorporated with a paid-up capital of DM500,000. The company acts as a wholesaler for holiday packages to the Maldives, an agent for sales of hotel rooms, sale of air tickets, and a vehicle for acquiring and trading of tourism related properties and real estate such as hotels and resorts worldwide. It has since become a major subsidiary to promote the Group's own resorts, Fun Island, Paradise Island, Sun Island, Holiday Island and Royal Island.[3]

Villa Hotels, Tokyo and Villa Hotels, Hong Kong were established in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

Ibrahim has also funded many infrastructure projects in several islands across the archipelago, most notably in developing harbours, construction of schools and mosques. He is currently working on setting up of a full-fledge General Hospital in Maamigili Island, which will have the first cancer treatments facility in the country.

Signing of MoU to Develop the Maamigili General Hospital Master Plan

Political career[edit]

Ibrahim was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1989. In addition, he has held and still holds various other posts in a number of government committees and regional trade bodies.

  • Presidential Candidate of the Jumhooree Party - due on 7 September 2013
  • President of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC)
  • Member of Parliament
  • Minister of Home Affairs
  • Presidential Candidate of the Jumhooree Party - October 2008 Elections
  • Leader of the Jumhooree Party : 2008 -
  • Governor of the Central Bank of Maldives - July 2005 to July 2008
  • Minister of Finance - July 2005 to July 2008 [6]
  • President of the Peoples Special Majlis : 2005 - 2008
  • Board member of the Bank of Maldives
  • Board member of the Maldives Ports Authority (Government Appointment)
  • Vice-President of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI)
  • President of the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI)
  • President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry

He resigned from his post as the Minister of Finance and Treasury on 10 July 2008 to stand for the first multi-party presidential elections in October 2008, as the candidate of the Jumhooree Party. He also resigned from his position as the Deputy Leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) on the same day.[7][8]

Ibrahim joined the MDP-led coalition in the second round of the elections, helping Mohamed Nasheed to secure a historic victory and bring an end to the thirty-year one-man rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Ibrahim initially joined President Nasheed's government as Minister for Home Affairs but resigned 20 days later,[9] citing indifferences in governing policies, especially in relation to Mr. Nasheed's privatisation policies. He since became a vocal opposition to Mr. Nasheed's government and is accused of having funded the anti-Nasheed protests that began in early 2012, ultimately leading to his resignation, after pressure from mutinying police and the army on 7 February 2012.

Political Activism & Imprisonment[edit]

Ibrahim has been imprisoned on politically motivated cases during Gayoom's regime as well as during Nasheed's brief reign.

Ibrahim was most recently arrested in 2009 on the suspicion that he was bribing MPs to vote against the government of President Nasheed. He was later released without charge.[10]

He is currently representing Maamigilee Constituency in Maldives Parliament.[11]

Controversies[edit]

In July 2010, the State Minister for Finance Ahmed Assad stated in a Presidents Office Press Brief that Maldives was facing hurdles in borrowing money because a specific Majlis member was borrowing a large sum of money which in turn was lowering the country’s credit rating. It was stated that this Member has made a request to the government to give him a ‘letter of no objection’ to borrow a further large sum, he said. Though the Minister refused to name the Majlis member at the conference but it is widely assumed in the Maldivian media that the Majlis member is Qasim Ibrahim. [12]

In September of 2008, the Auditor General submitted a report to the People’s Majlis and issued on the website of the Auditor General’s office, to the effect that Villa Group have been found to be involved in illicit trading of shares. [13]

In February 2013, Qasim Ibrahim who is the Parliament’s representative to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), accused UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul of lying and joking about the state of the Maldivian judiciary. Knaul’s highlighted that the JSC – mandated with the appointment, transfer and removal of judges – was unable to perform its constitutional duty adequately in its current form. Her comment was among a number of preliminary observations on the Maldives’ judiciary and wider legal ecosystem, following an eight day fact-finding mission. [14]

When Qasim Ibrahim was Finance Minister, controversy reigned regarding the tourism investment by EIB. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has invested €50million to support tourism development after the tsunami. According to the ECD in Colombo, there was no co-ordination between EIB and ECD during the design stage for the loans. Only after ECD reported on indications of misuse of money to EIB were some consultations were held. Overall co-ordination between EIB and ECD is very limited.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Company Profile - Villa Hotel Group". Villahotels.com. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  2. ^ "Villa Projects". Villa Projects. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  3. ^ a b "Villa Hotels & Resorts". villahotels.com. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  4. ^ "Villa - The Leading Business Initiative in Maldives". Villa.mv. 2003-02-19. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  5. ^ a b "Industries - Villa - The Leading Business Initiative in Maldives". Villa.mv. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  6. ^ Maldives Ministry of Finance and Treasury, official website. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  7. ^ "Miadhu New (Maldives)". 2008-07-04. 
  8. ^ "Dhivehi Observer". Doreview.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  9. ^ "Miadhu News (Maldives)". 2008-07-04. 
  10. ^ "(Hon) Qasim Ibrahim (MP) has been taken to Dhoonidhoo Detaining Centre". Maldivestoday.com. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  11. ^ "Maamigili MP opens first private airport with personal airline Flyme | Minivan News". Minivannews.com. 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  12. ^ "Single private borrower lowers Maldives credit rating, and wants to borrow more: Assad | Minivan News". Minivannews.com. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  13. ^ "Miadhu News – Auditor General wants to prosecute people involved in MTDC fraud". Miadhu.com. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  14. ^ "JSC member/presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim accuses UN Special Rapporteur of lying, joking | Minivan News". Minivannews.com. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  15. ^ http://www.oecd.org/countries/maldives/47234192.pdf

External links[edit]