Malé, Maldives – Former procurement manager of Maldives Gas, Ahmed Soodh Farooq has said that Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of Maldives Gas at the time, Ali Ikram was informed that the company had received refurbished oxygen cylinders instead of new ones which were paid for.
Speaking at the parliamentary committee on State Owned Enterprises, Soodh had told that DMD was informed of the used cylinders while they were on the ship which brought those to Maldives and that they wanted to speak to the Singaporean supplier about it too.
Soodh told that he had informed DMD, Ali Ikram as per his responsibility and that he was told by Ikram that NDMA would accept the cylinders even thought they were refurbished. Soodh further added that it was the responsibility of the DMD to speak to the legal team to resolve the issue as the supplier had not delivered the items to the specifications of the agreement.
He also added that all legal matters of Maldives Gas was being handled by their parent company, STO’s legal team and that only the company secretary was allowed to communicate with the parent company’s legal team.
Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has also begun investigations into the accusations that Maldives Gas was involved in a major corruption scheme regarding the supply of oxygen cylinders to the country.
The accusations against the company are directed at the Deputy Managing Director of the company Ikram Ali and sums up to MVR 16 million as of now, according to the State Owned Enterprises Committee of the Maldivian Parliament.
The corruption case was brought to parliament against Ali Ikram, who has been suspended following a sexual harassment case after a female employee lodged the case along with messaging history as proof.
According to the SOE committee, the accusations of corruption is related to the purchase of 4,128 oxygen cylinders which were procured in 2020 during the spread of Covid-19 in Maldives. The SOE committee had revealed that Ikram had travelled to Singapore with a shareholder of the company which was given the contract and that his trip was paid for by the shareholder of PROBIZ which had won the contract. The committee also revealed that documents of the trip had been collected for further investigation.
While 6 companies were approached to purchase the 47 liter oxygen cylinders, PROBIZ was given to supply 3,000 cylinders and the balance 1,000 cylinders was to be supplied by another company which had applied. The committee further revealed that the refurbished cylinders sent by PROBIZ cannot be used.
Speaking at todays committee meeting, chair of the SOE committee, Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb told that PROBIZ had given a price higher than other companies which had applied and that PROBIZ was not in the oxygen cylinder supply industry as well. He also added that Ikram had instructed to go ahead with the procurement stating that the cylinders needed to be brought to Maldives urgently.
It was also revealed that the 3,129 oxygen cylinders supplied by PROBIZ were refurbished. While they were contracted to send new cylinders, they had serviced and repainted old ones to Maldives at a price of USD 224 per cylinder. The committee also added that they would verify the quality of the other 1,000 cylinders which were supplied at a rate of USD 253 per cylinder to ensure that those were new.
Speaking at the committee meeting, one of the MP’s also added that the procurement of the cylinders was done after changing the procurement manager of Maldives Gas after the manager pointed out that PROBIZ was not in the business of oxygen cylinder supply and refused to accept their quotation.
In addition to this, it was also revealed that a parliament member also traveled to Singapore with PROBIZ on the trip before the procurement was done. While the members name was not revealed at the committee, local media have reported that it was Thinadhoo south constituency MP, Abdulla Saneef who belongs to MDP.
Ali Ikram, who was the Deputy Managing Director of Maldives Gas was suspended following sexual harassment case after a female employee had resigned from his position on March 9, 2021.
Following the suspension of Managing Director of Maldive Gas Shazail Shiyam in October 2019 over corruption allegations, Ali Ikram has served as the company’s acting manager.
Shazail was placed under suspension by the President’s Office on October 2019, after receiving several serious complaints that seem to fall under the administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance to Corruption’ policy. This includes the suspicious transfer of money into the account of an employee, allegations of corruption during repair work carried out by Maldive Gas and allegations of corruption during the hiring process of an employee.