ACC not to forward charges against ex-minister over ventilator case

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has decided not to forward charges against former Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen and other individuals over the ventilator scandal in 2020.

ACC twice submitted corruption charges against 11 officials at the health ministry who were involved in the failed procurement of ventilators during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) initially sent back the charges for further revisions and later decided not to file charges against the ministry officials, which included then-Health Minister Ameen, members of the ministry’s bid committee, and senior ministry officials. ACC has since decided to file the case.

Irregularities in procuring ventilators for the Maldives were first detected in the COVID-19 compliance audit conducted on the health ministry by the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) in 2020. As such, the audit revealed that Dubai-based Executors General Trading was paid 90% of the quoted price in advance to procure 75 ventilators in April 2020, of which only 15 were procured. The audit report also revealed the company was selected without assessing its financial and technical capabilities, in addition to not obtaining advance payment and performance guarantees.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has begun the arbitration process over the ventilator scandal at the request of the health ministry after the Dubai-based company failed to respond to repeated requests to return the amount paid by the Government of the Maldives, which amounts to USD2 million. The government had also refused to use the 15 procured ventilators, as they did not meet the specifications.