MPL fuel theft – Diesel worth MVR 28.3 million stolen!

Male' commercial harbor. | Photo: MPL

Malé, Maldives – Special audit report on fuel purchase of Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) has revealed that fuel worth over MVR 28.3 million was stolen from the company between 2018 and 2020.

According to the report a total of MVR 28,316,141 was lost to the theft of diesel fuel which was meant to be used for generators, tug boats and Rubber-Tired Gantry (RTG) cranes.

This includes 950,365 liters (MVR 9,617,691) of diesel purchased for operating generators, 1,862,148 liters (MVR 18,570,834) of diesel purchased for operating the tugboats and 11,775 liters (MVR 127,616) of diesel purchased for the RTG cranes.

Employees from both MPL and FSM were involved in the corruption according to the media briefs given by both companies previously. The audit report stated that fuel which was supposed to be delivered by Fuel Supply Maldives (FSM) to MPL never reached the end destination and that the procurement documents had been forged.

The report also stated that 799,900 liters (MVR 7,247,081) of diesel was supplied from FSM fuel bowsers to Hulhumalé jetty but the fuel was never put to the tugboats from that location according to the tug captains And that delivery notes were made for periods in which the tugboats were not operated as well.

Auditor General’s Office has identified 726 forged documents including request forms for fuel including advance request forms and delivery notes which had copies made and date changed. A total of MVR 13.42 million worth of fuel was stolen using these forged documents.

The report also highlighted that the fuel consumption details was updated in to MPL’s accounting systems based on the request forms provided and that the information was forged in order to show that all the fuel supplied was released for the consumption for MPL’s operations.

It was also highlighted that although the ports operations was lower in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic that MPL had consumed more than 59% additional fuel compared to 2021.

Audit report also noted that MPL had failed to keep proper logs of fuel consumption due to which excessive usage of fuel for various purposes of the operations was not flagged. It was also found that MPL had not taken appropriate action even though excessive consumption of fuel for their generators was flagged in an internal audit carried out in May 2019.

Auditor General’s recommendations on the issue include sending the matter to Anti-Corruption Commission and Maldives Police Service to be investigated and to take action against those from MPL and FSM who were involved in the graft.

Recommendation also include to recover damages caused to MPL due to the stolen fuel from those involved in the graft and to send the cases to Maldives Police Service to investigate those involved in making copies and forgery of signature on request forms from various departments of MPL.

Maldives Ports Limited CEO Shahid Ali (Shaad) had previously claimed that the MPL fuel theft occurred due to MPL being forced to operate understaffed during Covid-19 lockdown In 2020.

After the theft was exposed, CEO Shahid told that among employees who were questioned on the matter, one had owned up, and that further investigations revealed that the ordeal was carried out utilizing forged official papers.

These statements came after the former Chairman of Maldives Ports Limited (MPL), Mohamed Zaki resigned from his position days following MPL confirming that corrupt transactions worth over MVR 8 Million took place within the company during the COVID-19 lockdown.

MPL released a statement the next day announcing that employees involved in the corruption have been immediately identified and suspended, pending the outcome of the investigations.

FSM had also stated that the company took disciplinary actions against 5 employees of the company who were implicated following an audit of the incident by MPL.