Corruption watchdog seeks charges against Health Minister

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) is seeking charges against Haalth Minister Abdulla Ameen over the procurement of ventilators by the Health Ministry.

The Prosecutor General's Office has confirmed that the case has been officially filed at the office by ACC. However, no decisions have been made regarding the case thus far, said the PG.

Ameen is alleged to have misused his official position to obtain undue benefits to some parties in procuring ventilators during the COVID-19 pademic. A compliance audit report showed that the ministry had not acted according to regulations in awarding a project to procure 75 ventilators for the Maldives. The report revealed that the company that was tasked with the procurement is not a WHO-recommended supplier, as previously reported by the government.

The report, signed by Auditor General Ahmed Ziyath, said Dubai company, Executors General Trading’s financial and technical capacity was not taken into consideration when awarding the project to the party. While the procurement of 75 ventilators was tasked to the company for MVR 4,502,250, and while the Health Ministry in its documents implied that the company is a WHO recommended company, the organization has confirmed that it did not at any point shared a list of recommended suppliers with the ministry, said the report. The Audit report also noted in detail that neither a performance guarantee nor an advance payment guarantee was provided despite 90 percent of the agreement amount being disbursed to the company.

Ameen, who isolated himself from his duties until the investigation into the issue is concluded has defended his actions and said Maldives was in a state of a public health emergency at the time of the deal. He believes that all staff at the ministry had worked to ensure that no lives were lost due to the pandemic, said Ameen, adding that the audit report did not mention the state of panic at the time, and the shortage of ventilators across the globe.

“Although there are procedural and administrative issues, I do not believe any employees at the ministry worked with the intention of providing undue benefits to any party,” Ameen had said.