Ventilator corruption: ACC requests charges against three

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has asked the Prosecutor General's Office to raise charges against three individuals regarding the "ventilator corruption" case.

The Health Ministry signed an agreement with Dubai-based Executors General Trading on April 2, 2020, to purchase 75 ventilators. The Maldives government terminated the deal with the company on May 3, 2021, as the ventilators were not provided as agreed.

The agreement stipulates that the goods will be delivered within 29 working days of the advance payment. According to a special audit prepared by the Auditor General's Office, out of the MVR 34 million to be spent on the purchase of goods, MVR 30 million was paid to the company in advance without a bank guarantee. However, the company did not deliver the goods as stipulated in the agreement. Out of the 75 ventilators that were ordered, the Maldives received only ten ventilators.

The ACC has requested the Prosecutor General's Office to charge former Deputy Health Minister Shiyama Mohamed, former Director at the Health Ministry Ahmed Aslam, and former Legal Officer of the ministry Ali Shiham. The ACC requested the trio to be charged under the Prevention and Prohibition of Corruption Act for acting otherwise in a matter that would have benefited the state. The ACC also requested the recovery of MVR 31.5 million lost to the state.

The ACC had earlier accused 11 people of involvement in the ventilator purchase fraud. The three against whom the ACC has requested charges are among the originally accused eleven.

Despite repeated requests by the ACC to prosecute those responsible for ventilator corruption, the prosecution has each time referred the cases to the ACC after determining that there is insufficient evidence to prove the case. The ACC filed the cases of some of the accused on August 18 after the Prosecutor General's office repeatedly withdrew the case.