Malé, Maldives – Parliament of Maldives has passed to recover the damages caused to the state in the procurement of oxygen cylinders by Maldives Gas with 55 votes.
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.
While Maldives Gas had spend a total of USD 955,099 for the procurement of the cylinders, Maldives Gas had spend and additional USD 15,038 on 300 of the cylinders in sending it to Sri Lanka for testing.
According to SOE committee, all the cylinders which had been supplied by both PROBIZ and ANG were refurbished although they had been contracted to supply new oxygen cylinders. The committee also stated that while Maldives Gas was trying to get compensation from PROBIZ for the refurbished cylinders, the company had not made any attempts to recover any compensation for the damages from ANG company which had supplied 1,000 refurbished cylinders.
Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) had also instructed Maldives Gas that they should not use the cylinders until hydrostatic cylinder testing had been done on all the cylinders. In addition to this, SOE committee had told Maldives Gas to test the additional 2,400 cylinders in their godown before being commissioned for use.
While accusations against the company are directed at the previous Deputy Managing Director of the company Ikram Ali and sums up to MVR 16 million as of now, he had resigned from his position on March 9, 2021.
The corruption case was brought to parliament against initially Ali Ikram, who has been suspended following a sexual harassment case after a female employee lodged the case along with messaging history as proof.
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 an earlier 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 by ANG 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.
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 managing director.