The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has revealed that it has begun the arbitration process over the ventilator scandal on the request of the Ministry of Health.
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 in 2020. As such, the audit revealed 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 health ministry requested arbitration after the Dubai-based company failed to respond to repeated requests to return the amount paid by the Maldives government, which amounts to USD2 million. The government had also refused to use the 15 procured ventilators, as they did not meet the agreement upon specifications.
Additionally, the President’s Office had instructed the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate the case for corruption. In November 2021, ACC resubmitted the corruption charges against 11 health ministry officials who were involved in the failed procurement of ventilators. However, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) sent back the charges for further revisions once again.