President orders investigation into corruption uncovered in audits

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (C) with Health Minister Abdulla Ameen (R). (Photo/President's Office)

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has instructed Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Maldives Police Service to investigate the corruption uncovered in compliance audits conducted by the Auditor General’s Office on government’s COVID-19 related spending.

Sun has been informed that the President instructed for the findings regarding Tourism Ministry to be investigated by the ACC, and for findings regarding the Health Ministry to be investigated by both the ACC and the police.

The compliance audit report on Health Ministry’s COVID-19 related spending was released on Sunday, and states there is reason to believe the procurement of ventilators from overseas involves fraud.

Health Ministry contracted the import of ventilators – part of efforts to improve the capacity of Maldives’ health system to treat coronavirus patients who require intensive care - to three private companies; Medtech Maldives, Naadu Private Limited, and Dubai-based Executors General Trading LLC.

While Health Minister Abdulla Ameen and officials from National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) previously stated that the Executors General Trading was contracted to supply 75 ventilators at the recommendation of World Health Organization (WHO), the Auditor General’s Office found the company had not been recommended by the organization.

The audit uncovered that 11 ventilators which were supplied by Executors General Trading were not the brand of ventilators they had been contracted to procure, and do not meet the requirements. Executors General Trading was also contracted to procure the ventilators at a higher price than other suppliers.

Health Ministry also did not obtain a performance guarantee, or an advance payment guarantee when it paid MVR 30 million (90 percent of the total payment) as an advance to the company.

The Auditor General instructed an investigation into the award of the contract to Executors General Trading.

Meanwhile, the compliance audit report on Tourism Ministry’s COVID-19 related spending was released on Thursday, and also uncovered multiple issues, including uncovered multiple issues, including that 99 percent of the MVR 26 million in COVID-19 spending by the Tourism Ministry was on areas outside of its mandate.

Issues uncovered in the audits are also under review of the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee.