COVID Corruption: Parliament approves to recommend PGO to review case

The Parliament has approved to request the Prosecutor General’s Office to review its decision not to file charges for the alleged corruption involved in the procurement of ventilators for the Health Ministry.

A compliance audit report conducted at the Health Ministry had shown 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.

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) investigated the corruption involving the procurement of the ventilators, and requested the Prosecutor General’s Office on October 14 to raise charges against 11 officials from the Health Ministry, including then-minister Abdulla Ameen. However, citing incomplete investigation, the Prosecutor General’s Office returned the case to ACC on October 20.

While disagreements arose between ACC and the Prosecutor General regarding the investigation, the Parliament’s Speaker sent a letter to the Parliament requesting to launch an inquiry into the case. The Judiciary Committee recommended to review the case, and the committee’s report was approved with the votes of all 50 MPs who took part in the vote.

The Judiciary Committee’s report recommended three courses of action, including recommending the Prosecutor General’s Office to obtain all available information on the case from ACC, Maldives Police Services and other relevant authorities. The second recommendation suggested the PGO to review the case while the third recommendation asked PGO to share its decision regarding the review with the Judiciary Committee.

While debating the Judiciary Committee’s report at the Parliament on Monday, several MPs criticized both the ACC and the PGO for their handling of the case. Speaker of the Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed said ACC’s report on the investigation has enough evidence to prosecute those involved in the case. It is upto the judge to decide if a crime had truly been committed, said Nasheed.