Can prosecute even if an individual did not gain undue benefits: Hailam

Ahmed Hailam, Criminal Court's ex-Chief Judge | Photo: Avas

Malé, Maldives – Criminal Court’s ex-Chief Judge Ahmed Hailam, has stated that undue benefits to a person through corruption was not a basis to decide on whether to go ahead with prosecution or dropping the case.

Hailam had took on to Twitter in reply of a tweet written by former President and Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed, following Prosecutor General’s refusal to charge those involved in the ventilator scandal. Speaker Nasheed had called for the resignation of Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, as well as the President of the Anti Corruptions Commission (ACC), Mariyam Shiuna regarding the ventilator scandal.

Hailam stated that the government would not have incurred a loss in millions, unless there was neglect from the concerned parties and authorities in doing their job. He has also said that the functions of the government are not aligned in a way that it would result in loss or damage to the government itself and that if the government suffers any loss in any manner then there should be someone or some people responsible for it.

According to ACC, the PG office had decided to uphold their earlier decision to not go ahead with the prosecution, stating that there was no new reason for changing PGs earlier stance on the case. They added that their review of the case submitted by ACC revealed no new elements that provide the basis for prosecuting those involved. 

The ventilator scandal came to light following an audit by the Auditor General’s Office, which suggested foul play in all three contracts awarded by the Ministry of Health, to procure 142 ventilators for the state during the year 2020. These include the agreements made between Executors General Trading LLC for 75 ventilators, MedTech Maldives Pvt Ltd for 50 ventilators and with Naadu Pvt Ltd to acquire 24 ventilators, out of which the agreement with Executors General which became the most controversial of all.

Following a joint investigation by the ACC and Maldives Police Service, it was revealed that former Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen and 11 employees of the ministry were involved with the expenditure of over MVR 30 million in violation of the Public Finance Act.

ACC had forwarded 11 names, including that of Minister Ameen, to the Prosecutor General’s Office to be charged with corruption under part (a)(2) of section 511, part (a) of section 512, part (b) of section 513 and part (a)(1) of section 313 of the Penal Code of Maldives. However, PGO at the time refused to charge any of the individuals involved citing insufficient evidence.

While the then Health Minister Abdullah Ameen resigned from office after the matter hit headlines, some ventilators have since arrived. However, the new Health Minister Ahmed Naseem has said that there is no hope for any of the remaining ventilators to be received by the Maldives.