A special audit report by the Auditor General Office (AGO) on the 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 shocking total of MVR 28,316,141 was stolen as diesel fuel using forged documents. 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 Fuel Supply Maldives (FSM) were involved in the corruption as stated by both MPL and FSM. The audit report stated that fuel which was supposed to be delivered by FSM to MPL never reached the end destination. AGO identified at least 726 forged documents including advance request forms and delivery notes which had copies made and date altered. 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 were updated into 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. The report also highlighted that although the port’s operations were lower in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, MPL had consumed more than 59% additional fuel compared to 2021.
Furthermore, the report highlighted 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 for excessive consumption of fuel for their generators which was flagged in an internal audit carried out in May 2019.
AGO recommended MPL to recover damages caused due to the stolen fuel from those involved in the scandal and to send the relevant cases to Maldives Police Service to investigate those involved in forging documents at various departments of MPL.
Maldives Ports Limited CEO Shahid Ali had previously claimed that the MPL fuel scandal occurred due to MPL being forced to operate understaffed during Covid-19 lockdown In 2020. However, Shahid later said that further investigations revealed that the scandal was carried out utilizing forged official papers and extended back to 2018.