Corruption scandal in procurement of medical cylinders for COVID-19

Corruption allegations have been levied against the Maldive Gas company in the procurement of medical cylinders to increase the medical capacity of the Maldives during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation. 

The Parliament’s Committee on State-Owned Enterprises made an inquiry into the matter and has now forwarded the Committee report on the matter to the floor. The report alleges corruption in the procurement of cylinders by the Maldive Gas company. 

The company purchased the cylinders from two companies and ordered new cylinders. However, documents received by the Committee show that the cylinders received were indeed not new and inflicted massive losses to the company over hydrostatic tests that had to be conducted on the cylinders before they could be used. 

The matter is also being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). 

The Committee also made a number of recommendations to the company in the report for having conducted itself in a manner that gave way to corruption.

The report read that most of the issues noted in a company internal audit can only be done so by amending the procurement policy and recommended repealing the company policy of making the full advance payments. The Committee is to be informed after the amendments were brought into effect by April 30. 

Parliament’s Committee on State-Owned Enterprises.

The Committee also recommended the company hold dialogue with the two companies awarded the procurement of cylinders to cover the losses suffered by the company and to pursue legal action to cover the losses. 

The Committee report also recommended the appointment of a new Managing Director to the Maldive Gas company, repeating a former recommendation made to STO, the parent company of Maldive Gas. Maldive Gas Managing Director Shazail Shiyam has been in suspension since 2019 over corruption allegations. The Committee also expressed concern over the prolonged case against Shazail. Shazail has previously denied all allegations made against him.

The Committee report also recommended instructing the ACC to look into the awarding of the procurement of cylinders to the two companies after alleging that the process was conducted internally with the participation of the Acting Managing Director and company employees. 

The parliament is to vote on the report today.

Maldive Gas declined to make an official comment on the case since it is still in the parliament.