Maldives: French people want to invest in an islet, but paradise turns into a nightmare

About fifty French families had decided, in 2018, to invest in an atoll of the Maldives. The main objective was to preserve this island from mass tourism. But the case quickly became murky.

This is the story of the love at first sight that fifty French people had for an island in the Maldives, Rihiveli. “This island is special, it has such energy and such beauty, that in fact when you go there, you feel a bit like paradise,” says Katy Kalb, former director of the Rihiveli site. But this love story was cut short. The French have the feeling of having had their island stolen. It all started in 2018 when they teamed up with a local entrepreneur. They invest 42,000 euros each to take over the operation of the small hotel complex, as well as an annual rent to be paid to the owner.

The local partner suspected of embezzlement

Some have a liberal profession, others are teachers or farmers, like Xavier Levent, a scuba diving enthusiast. “For the price of a car, having shares on an island in the Maldives is still not so bad, and then being able to enjoy it too,” says the farmer. Three years ago, the French embarked on a tourist and ecological management of the islets. But quickly, the dream crumbled. They suspect their local associate of wrongdoing. They filed a complaint against him, but the Maldivian courts ruled against them. The French have thus lost the right to exploit the premises, and are ordered to leave the island. In question, in particular, the non-payment of rents, as specified by the lawyer for the Maldivian partner. The French admit that they did not pay, because they were waiting, they say, for the result of the legal proceedings.

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