The handover of a state-owned building in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale, where Lale’ Youth International School was operated, to another company was halted due to claims of involved corruption filed by students’ parents, stated the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Maldives.
The building was put up for bid in September to be developed as an international school, which was won by Qualitat Education. The company in collaboration with Sri Lanka’s Gateway College had announced plans to open “Gateway International School” next year.
However, ACC ordered the education ministry to halt handover of the building to Qualitat this Monday, a day before the awarding ceremony.
ACC’s president Hassan Luthufee explained that the graft watchdog commenced probe into the matter after Lale’s parents filed claims of corruption involved in the bidding process and Qualitat’s win.
The shareholders of Qualitat also includes the wives of two High Court judges. However, spouses of High Court Judges are included in the list of persons banned from holding shares of business companies associated with foreign firms in the Anti-Corruption Commission Act.
Luthufee said the issue of the shareholders along with claims of Qualitat violating laws and regulations will be investigated by the ACC.
“The parents who filed the issue also claimed that [Qualitat Education] was not a registered company. I immediately looked into the matter and informed the parents that it had been registered in June,” said Luthufee, which was only two months ahead of the bid opening.
The ACC also harshly criticised Biz Atolls Pvt Ltd, the local firm in collaboration with a Turkish company, to which the government had awarded the operation of Lale Youth International School. Luthufee explained that the agreement involved Biz Atolls opening a new school in Hulhumale within a given time period, but had failed to meet the condition despite two extensions granted by the Maldives government.
Meanwhile, the government awarded the building for an international school development to Qualitat Education for fifteen years under the condition that the company open a new school in the twelfth year.
A number of Lale parents had previously submitted a petition to the education ministry demanding Lale School to be given back to Biz Atolls.