The infamous Artur brothers who left Kenya after accusations that they were global conmen, criminals and drug traffickers have surfaced in the Maldives.
The newspapers in the Maldives have pictures of one of the Artur brothers — Artur Sargasyan — and another unidentified man walking with the big shots of Maldives government.
The Arturs' mode of operation where they show up in the company of top and well-connected government leaders appears to have been replicated in the Maldives.
Their presence in the Maldives comes within days after ousted leader Mohammed Nasheed expressed fear over his life.
Mr Nasheed is seeking re-election when the country goes to the polls in September. He was kicked out in February last year.
That assassination plot of a top politician echoes what happened in Kenya in 2005 when Mr Raila Odinga, a top leader in the opposition then, accused the Artur brothers of being mercenaries sent into the country to kill him.
There has been a lot of online chatter over this past week concerning the presence of one of the Artur’s in the country known for its lovely beaches and holiday resorts.
According to the Haveeru Online “the Artur brothers Margaryan and Sargayan have registered a company “Artur Brothers World Connections’ with the Economic Ministry last October”.
“It has also been confirmed that the Arturs have been gradually investing in the Maldives since October. In addition, the brothers were pictured with Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim during a motor racing event held in Hulhumale in January,” read a story in the Haveeru Online.
“The shareholders of the company include two French nationals and a local. The main company of the two brothers, “Artur Brothers Holding” is engaged in business activities ranging from entertainment, Property Development, Real Estate, Security, Labour Supplier, Main Power Supplier, Casino, General Trading, Hotel Industry and Car Trading according to the company website,” the online papers Haveeru Online and The Sun Online added, quoting data from the country’s Trade Ministry.
Mr Adeeb, the Tourism minister and Mr Nazim, the Defence Minister have both denied knowing the Artur brothers.
“I don’t have any connection with them. I came to know about them after the rumours started spreading on social media networks. But no country had informed of us anything officially,” Mr Nazim told the Haveeru Online.
The Sun Online, also of the Maldives, quoted the Tourism minister, Mr Adeeb: “They met with us in Hulhumale. They told us that they were defrauded by some senior officials of the former government (former President Nasheed’s government), who took large sums of money from them for investment in the Maldives”.
“If you want to know the truth about who has links with the Artur brothers, you should find out who the shareholders are of the company established by them in the Maldives. It’s not right that Haveeru reports everything that’s shared on social media. The photo showing (me with) the Artur brothers was taken at an event that was open to the public,” the Tourism minister is quoted as saying.