The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has decided against pressing charges and declined the case regarding the ventilator issue surfaced in connection to the government’s Covid-19 expenditure.
PGO revealed that the decision was reached due to lacking evidence in the case, after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) sought charges against senior officials at the Ministry of Health, last week. As such, the corruption watchdog had sought charges against 11 ministry officials on October 14.
The Ministry of Health initially contracted Executors General Trading based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, to deliver 75 ventilators in support of the government’s response efforts against the global Covid-19 pandemic, during March 2020.
The contract was worth MVR 34.50 million and there were reports of wrongdoings in the ministry’s expenses for the project, according to a special audit report following which the corruption watchdog and Maldives Police Service (MPS) investigated, followed by the PGO.
Following investigations, PGO decided to decline the case on Monday citing insufficient evidence.
Providing details regarding the decision at a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, PG Hussain Shameem noted that there was insufficient evidence to raise charges against any of the accused, when the case was forwarded to them.
He noted that although there were administrative issues, ultimately the PGO will seek evidence in order to raise charges. Shameem noted that said administrative wrongdoings have raised the question whether the ministry officials had acted responsibly.
Further, he stated that despite discussions being held regarding the case with ACC, the commission had failed to engage with PGO regarding the case, when it was forwarded for prosecution.
The corruption watchdog sought charges against Health Minister Abdulla Ameen on three accusations; Ameen having introduced the bidder to the Majlis committee, providing false information and misuse of official authority. In light of this, Shameem stressed that there is no clear evidence that backs these accusations, in findings, which poses challenges is proving the accusations at court.
Said findings indicate that Ameen had asked two other officials not on the committee to participate in its work, to complete the quorum.
Due to the PGO’s decision, parliamentarians representing the main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) during Tuesday’s sitting announced a no-confidence motion against ACC members and are seeking their removal.
The no-confidence motion is to be submitted at the independent institutions’ committee of the People’s Majlis.
Local media outlets have since cited the corruption watchdog having revealed that they will review the case of misconduct by health ministry officials.