COVID corruption: Committee asked to look into info withheld by institutions

The Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has requested the Parliament’s Judiciary Commitee to find information being withheld by Maldives Police Services and the Anti-Corruption Commission regarding the shady purchase of ventilators for the state.

Maldives Police had requested the Prosecutor General to raise charges against 11 people linked to the ventilator purchases. However, the Prosecutor General's Office had cited a lack of substantial evidence in stating that the charges cannot be pursued against the individuals.

The issue was later studied by the Parliament’s Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee in its report dated November 9, 2020 said it recommends that the Prosecutor General’s Office reviews the case further to obtain more information.

“The Prosecutor General’s Office on February 1st said it requested the Police and ACC for more information regarding the case. The office said the information that they require have not been shared by the police or ACC,” said Nasheed.

Therefore, he is requesting the Judiciary Committee to look into the matter, and identify the information being withheld by the two institutions, and the reason for wittholding information, said Nasheed.

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.

Then Health Minister, Abdulla Ameen resigned from his post in response to the scandal. Two deputy ministers at the Health Ministry were also put on suspension, and they remain under suspension to date.