Malé, Maldives – Former President and Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed has said that Parliament should make a decision on how to handle the case of 75 ventilators which the government had paid MVR 30.91 million to Dubai’s Executors General Trading LLC.
In 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.
While MP of Maduvvari Constituency, Adam Shareef and Bilehdhoo Constituency, Ahmed Haleem (Dhonbileiy) both filed an emergency motion to the Parliament today, concerning the ventilator scandal, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentarians, who have the super majority of the Parliament, were in two different stands today.
Some believe that the case should be prosecuted, by referring to the Auditor General Hassan Ziyath’s report, as well as the Anti Corruption Commission’s report. They also stated that they were against the stance of the Prosecutor General’s Office to not press charges against those involved in the ventilator corruption scandal.
Speaker Nasheed has also repeatedly said that the PG Office should decide to prosecute the case.
All the members will know, parliament has looked at the case four times. Even now, different committees are still investigating different aspects of the case. Then, I wonder if the Parliament should just be investigating the case, or taking some actions against it. This is something that we have to decide on.Mohamed Nasheed, Former President and Speaker of Parliament
While the Parliament can only do two things in this case, which is either to remove the PG or members of ACC, Speaker Nasheed has already expressed his opinion about removing PG Shameem from his position. A decision was not made on the removal of ACC members, in the MDP Parliamentary Group discussions last night.
As Parliament had given harsh criticism to both ACC and PG, Prosecutor General’s Office of Maldives had revealed earlier today that despite maintaining that the stance to not press charges against those involved in the ventilator corruption scandal, the office will now be revisiting the matter and redetermine whether charges should be pressed.
In a statement released by the PG Office today, it read that while it is understandable that the general public and the Anti Corruptions Commission (ACC) would have concerns regarding the PG’s decision to not press charges regarding the ventilator case, there would be no letter from the ACC which the PG has not responded to.
It also stated that as the matter has caused a great degree of concern among the public, as well as within the ACC, the PG Office will be revising the matter to determine whether there is any room to change the previous state of the office.
This comes after the ACC revealed that they would be requesting the PG to review their decision to not go to court regarding the ventilator case as well, after both ACC and PG got into hot water following PG’s decision on not prosecuting the case.
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 entire 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.
Among those who were requested by ACC to be prosecuted 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, are;
- Minister Abdullah Ameen
- Director Financial Executive Ahmed Aslam
- Deputy Minister Nishama Mohamed
- Deputy Minister Shiyama Mohamed
- Director Naushad Ali
- Bid Committee Member Aminath Shaufa
- Assistant Director Fathimath Limya
- Legal Officer Ali Shihaam
- Assistant Director Abdullah Hafeez, and
- Assistant Administrative officer Hussain Niyazk
Detailing the accusations, it was highlighted that it was Minister Ameen who introduced the owner of Executors General Dr. Ali Al Thakhumathee to the Ministry and that it was the Minister himself who initiated the handing over of the contract to the company.
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.