PG Office to review ventilator corruption once again

The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) is reviewing its decision not to raise charges against those involved in the ventilator procurement corruption.

A compliance audit report showed that the Health Ministry had not acted according to regulations in awarding a contract 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 Commision (ACC) concluded its investigation into the case and first requested PGO to raise charges against those involved on October 14, 2020. The Prosecutor General’s Office informed the commission on October 19, 2020 that there were no grounds to seek charges, noting six main points. ACC then reviewed the case and once again requested ACC to raise charges later on October 25, 2020.

However, no response was received from the PGO regarding ACC’s second request for several months, and PGO finally informed ACC that it cannot move forward with charging those involved earlier this week.

PGO changed its decision and decided to review the case once again on Monday after harsh public criticism was aimed at the office for deciding against moving forward with the case, despite the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) stating that it had enough evidence to press charges. The decision to review the case came while members of both main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and opposition MPs called for the resignation of Prosecutor General, Hussain Shameem. The Speaker of the Parliament and former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed also voiced his concern over the case, stating that he did not believe the PG had acted according to the constitution and laws in dealing with the case.

A statement issued by PGO on Tuesday said it once again decided to review the case due to the concerns expressed by ACC and the Parliament. The statement went on to say that it would obtain any evidence collected by the police, and instruct ACC to carry out an investigation if any further investigation is required.

The office further said it relies on the amount of available evidence against those accused and public interest before deciding to move forward with raising criminal charges. Noting that although the case is of great public interest, it is questionable whether there is sufficient ecifence to press charges, said PGO.