Ministry of Home Affairs' audit report for 2016, released by the Auditor General (AG) last Thursday, stated that the ankle monitors used to tag dangerous suspects under the MoniCon order in former Home Minister Umar Naseer's tenure, were acquired unlawfully.
According to the audit report, Home Ministry acquired the ankle monitors through a private company, in violation of the law, without approval from the National Tender Board established at the Ministry of Finance.
The Public Finance Act states that a proposal must be submitted to the National Tender Board for approval if procurement costs exceed MVR 2 million. The AG Office also advises utilising the board to seek a contractor for all projects costing between MVR 2 to 5 million.
At a daily rate of MVR 50 per suspect, Home Ministry estimated that the cost of tagging 1,000 suspects will be MVR 10 million per year.
The audit report disclosed that over MVR 1 million was spent on the programme by the end of 2018 since the signing of the agreement.
Home Ministry signed the 10-year contract with Stalwart Maldives Pvt Ltd on November 19, 2015, to tag and monitor suspects charged with criminal offences and those who cannot be kept in custody, under the MoniCon order.
As per the agreement, Stalwart was tasked with tagging 300 suspects within 100 days of signing the contract, and receiving the advance payment.
The agreement further stated that Stalwart should have the capability to tag and monitor 1,000 criminals simultaneously at the end of the first year, and this number must reach 3,000 by the end of year two.
The Auditor General concluded the report advising relevant authorities to investigate the matter further, as the tagging programme was not funded through the transparent and fair means detailed in the Public Finance Act.
Responding to these allegations, Umar Naseer maintained his innocence, adding that the former government also investigated the issue. Umar denied the accusation that the contract was signed with a company which he had stakes in.
He further insisted that the bid was awarded to the company offering the lowest cost, with permission from the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).
ACC has also launched a probe into the dealings of Home Ministry and the private company tasked with conducting the tagging programme.
Local media Mihaaru reported that the corruption watchdog is currently collecting statements from individuals with relevant information about the bidding process.