Corruption watchdog finds no wrongdoings in ventilator probe so far

Mariyam Shauna, President of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) pictured during a press conference on October 24, 2019. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

An inquiry report by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into the government work involving the purchase of ventilators for the COVID-19 situation in the Maldives has so far not revealed any wrongdoings.

Allegations of corruption have been directed at some government figures regarding the work to obtain ventilators from foreign companies. ACC has been investigating the allegations and the Commission’s President Mariyam Shiuna stated in a Parliamentary Committee meeting that the watchdog had received all the necessary documents regarding the matter.

The 12-page report was a summary of the findings of the investigation so far. Further inquiries and documents were being sought after by the Commission. The ACC investigation so far has found that the government awarded contracts to three private companies to source 149 ventilators in total. Out of these, only 22 ventilators have so far been obtained by the state.

The three companies that were awarded contracts to source ventilators:

  • Naadu Private Limited – 24 ventilators
  • Medtech Maldives Private Limited – 50 ventilators
  • Executors General Trading (Dubai, UAE) – 75 ventilators

Only the company based in Dubai received the payment to source the ventilators. A payment of MVR 31.05 million was made to the company in total.

Health Ministry informed the ACC on how the ventilator contracts were awarded. The contracts were awarded between trusted companies that were recommended by the technical figures of the Ministry for the work due to perceived delays that could be faced if the contract was awarded to a single company.

The priority was on companies that could obtain the ventilators as quickly as possible and the contracts for the work stipulated certain dates as well. However, no company was successful in obtaining the ventilators for the dates on the contract.

ACC also noted that special permission was obtained by the Ministry to conduct the work through the bidding committee of the Ministry under a designated budget. The tender of the Committee of the Ministry had requested for the permit to not submit the documents related to the matter to the Tender Board of Maldives. The transaction total amounted higher than MVR 2.5 million, which meant that the documents related are to be submitted to the Tender Board, however, the special permit obtained by the Ministry meant that this was exempted.

Former Prosecutor General Muhuthaaz Muhusin questioned the reason for an inquiry report by the ACC on the matter. The former PG stated that the only outcome of such a report was baseless allegations and enmity. He stated that the importance of criminal investigation into the matter.

The ACC report did however, note that the special permits that are obtained to operate beyond the set policies could pave the way for corruption and lose the purpose of the procurement system of the government. Such moves could also result in a lack of public trust in the procurement system of the government and cause skepticism and misgivings.