Ventilator scandal: Court rejected ACC’s request to tap phones of those involved

President of Anti Corruptions Commission of Maldives (ACC), Mariyam Shiuna | Photo: Nishan Ali

Malé, Maldives – Anti Corruption Commission of the Maldives has revealed that Criminal Court had denied an order to listen to phone calls of some of those accused of being involved in the ventilator corruption case of Health Ministry.

Speaking at the Judiciary Committee of the parliament, President of ACC, Mariyam Shiuna revealed that they had requested for a court order and got rejected.

After MP of Kendhoo constituency, Ali Hussain asked if this was true that their request got rejected, Shiuna told the committee that she could only reveal the details if the committee hearing was made secret. Following the pressure of members to answer to the question, Shiuna told that it is true but did not reveal whom they wanted to get the orders against.

In addition to this, she also told that ACC had gotten bank statements of 31 individuals who are accused of being involved in the case and that non of their account statements had reflected any suspicious activity. Shiuna also confirmed that the money which was paid for the ventilators had directly gone to Dubai’s Executors General Trading LLC.

She further added that even if not related to the ventilator case that there are suspicious activities which have been identified from these statements and that needed to be investigated separately. Shiuna also added that they did not take any bank statements from any family members or relatives of these 31 individuals.

Shiuna also revealed that Foreign Ministry had stopped their attempt to get the bank statement and questioning of WHO representative to the Maldives, Dr. Arvind Mathur, who was accused of recommending Dubai’s Executors General Trading LLC to the former Health Minister Abdullah Ameen. ACC revealed that Foreign Ministry had told them that they could not get any such details from Dr. Arvind Mathur because he had diplomatic immunity.

ACC also backed the claim of Auditor Generals Office by stating that Dr. Arvind Mathur did not give an official recommendation to Former Minister Ameen and Dr. Arvind Mathur had only shared some of the contacts to Ameen.

While Dubai’s Executors General Trading LLC was contracted to supply 75 ventilators when the Covid-19 virus started spreading in the Maldives, only 15 ventilators had been supplied by them till date. From the 15 they had sent, 5 had missing parts which has not been accepted by the government. 

Health Minister of Maldives, Ahmed Naseem had told on March 6, 2021 that the Ministry was still not sure of an exact date for when the ventilators will arrive and that from the actions of the Dubai company, it does not seem like they would be sending the remaining 60 ventilators to Maldives. 

On March 31, 2021 Spokesperson of President’s Office Mabrook Azeez said that the government has decided to go to international arbitration to recover the money spent to purchase ventilators that Maldives has not received. Ministry of Health had paid MVR 30.91 million to Dubai’s Executors General Trading LLC for the purchase of 75 ventilators last year.

The previous Health Minister, Abdullah Ameen resigned from office was lead to by a series of events, stating from an audit conducted by the Auditor General’s Office, which suggested foul play in all three contracts awarded by the Minister of Health, to procure 142 ventilators for the state. 

This included of the agreement 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.

While Minister Ameen later resigned due to the scandal, Deputy Minister Nishaama Mohamed, and senior officials of the Ministry were implicated in the scandal. After the audit report, the ACC conducted an investigation into the scandal and requested charges against the 11 implicated. However, the PG had rejected the case from being sent to court twice stating that charges could not be brought forward in the case due to insufficient evidence.