Maldives Implements Strict Measures to Curb Foreign-Controlled Private Businesses

In an effort to address the issue of private businesses controlled by foreigners, the Ministry of Economic Development in the Maldives has introduced stringent measures and regulations. These new rules aim to crack down on businesses registered under the names of Maldivians but ultimately benefit foreign individuals. The prevalence of such enterprises, including numerous shops and market stalls run by non-Maldivians, has prompted the government to take decisive action.

Under the newly implemented regulations, strict procedures have been established for the registration, operation, and cancellation of private businesses that are controlled by foreigners. The primary objective is to halt any private enterprise that directly or indirectly favours foreign individuals and to hold the Maldivian registrants accountable for their actions. Should the Ministry of Economic Development receive evidence of revenue being deposited into a foreigner’s bank account, swift action will be taken. Offenders will face a hefty fine amounting to USD 6,500, accompanied by a ban preventing them from registering a new business for a duration of five years.

- Advertisement -

To ensure transparency, the ministry will publicly disclose the grounds for terminating such businesses. Financial institutions and other relevant entities are mandated to report any suspicious fund transfers from these businesses to the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). The ministry will also verify business permissions and penalize those found in violation of regulations, particularly if goods are placed outside the designated premises, with fines ranging from USD 65 to USD 6,500.

Furthermore, the new regulations stipulate that businesses must be registered online or through the local council. Upon registration, the ministry will reserve the chosen business name for a period of 14 days. Private enterprises can now be registered for up to 10 years but will be subject to inspections to ensure compliance. Violations of the regulations may result in fines ranging from USD 65 to USD 6,500.

Presently, there are approximately 22,000 registered businesses in the Maldives. Recognizing the need to support businesses in adhering to the new regulations, the Ministry of Economic Development plans to conduct awareness programs to provide guidance and ensure widespread compliance.

These measures are expected to significantly curb the issue of private businesses controlled by foreigners in the Maldives, safeguarding the interests of the local economy and fostering a more equitable business environment.

- Advertisement -