Criminal court rejected request for court order: ACC

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has stated that the Criminal Court had rejected its request for a court order to obtain information for investigations relating to the Health Ministry's ventilator corruption case.

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 to Dubai company, Executors General Trading. Members of ACC were summoned to the Parliament's Judiciary Committee on Tuesday regarding their investigation into the ventilator corruption scandal.

Kendhoo MP Ali Hussain inquired from ACC members regarding rumors that the commission had requested the Criminal Court to issue an order which would allow the commission to obtain the phone records of those alleged to have taken part in the corruption. ACC's President, Mariyam Shiuna side-stepped the question in responding to MP Hussain, and requested for the committee meeting to be held behind closed doors. However, MP Hussain denied the request, and asked Shiuna to respond to the question asked. Then answering the question, Shiuna said the commission had indeed requested the Criminal Court for a court order that would allow the commission to obtain the phone records of the suspects. However, the request was denied by the court, said Shiuna.

Although ACC forwarded names of 11 people who allegedly took part in the ventilator corruption, the Prosecutor General's Office decided against raising charges against them, citing lack of evidence. However, the Prosecutor General's Office changed its position on the matter and said that the it would review the case after harsh public criticism was aimed at the office for its refusal to charge those involved in the case.

Shiuna said while the Prosecutor General's Office is currently reviewing the case, the office requires ACC to submit additional information and supporting document relating to the case. However, the office has not provided any details on what is required, she added.

ACC's Investigative Officer Majid Ibrahim told the committee that ACC had investigated whether any funds related to the scandal had entered the accounts of those suspected of being involved in the corruption, and that no such evidence was found. However, the accounts of their family members were not checked, he added.

The compliance 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, the report noted that neither a performance guarantee nor an advance payment guarantee was provided by the company. Despite this, 90 percent of the agreement amount was disbursed to the company, most of which was issued before the agreement was signed.