Ventilator scandal: ACC requests review of PG decision against charges

(L-R) Combined photo shows Health Minister Abdulla Ameen, Health Ministry’s Finance Executive Ahmed Aslam, and Deputy Minister Nishaama Mohamed.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has requested the Prosecutor General’s Office (PG Office) to review the decision against bringing charges in the ventilator scandal investigation into the Health Ministry.

The PG Office on October 20, declined against charging the 11 Health Ministry officials as was requested by the ACC, due to a lack of evidence. The ACC had included former Health Minister Abdulla Ameen and suspended Deputy Minister Nishaama Mohamed among those to be charged. The decision against bringing charges had led to criticism of the ACC and PG Office. 

ACC had rejected the assertion that there was a lack of evidence in the case. 

Those to be charged are: 

  • Health Minister Abdulla Ameen
  • Deputy Minister and Chair of the Bid Committee Nishaama Mohamed
  • Director of the Health Ministry, Naushaadh Ali
  • Bid Committee Member, Aminath Shaufa
  • Assistant Director of the Health Ministry Fathimath Limya

Others to be charged include Health Ministry’s Finance Executive Ahmed Aslam, Deputy Director-General Abdulla Shareef, Legal Officer Ali Shiham, Assistant Director Abdulla Hafeez, and Assistant Administrative Officer Hussain Niyaz.

The case stems from the procurement of ventilators from three companies to increase the capacity of the Maldivian healthcare system regarding COVID-19. 

The ACC, regarding the charges it requested, had stated that Minister Ameen was to be charged for providing false information, as well as misuse of official capacity regarding the contract with Dubai based Executors General Trading, one of the companies awarded a contract to procure ventilators.

The Minister had repeatedly stated that the company was recommended to the Bid Committee after being recommended by the World Health Organization in an official capacity, claims that are uncorroborated by the WHO and Audit Report findings into the scandal.

The investigation also found that the Minister had encouraged the participation of two other officials who were not at the committee to attend the committee. Minister Ameen had also encouraged the 75 percent advance payment to be paid to the company before obtaining a performance guarantee.

Deputy Minister Nishaama and four others on the committee are charged with awarding the contract without any due diligence and technical evaluations despite the lack of a quotation under the name of the company.

They are also alleged to have changed a document submitted under the name of an individual to the name of the Dubai-based company. ACC alleges that this was done to award the contract to the individual and whitewash the whole procedure. They are to be charged with misconduct in an official capacity and misuse of official capacity.