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ACC reinvestigates Dharumavantha Hospital's corruption case

Shahudha Mohamed
26 October 2020, MVT 20:25
Dharumavantha Hospital constructed in former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration. The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) is reinvestigating whether corruption was involved in contracting the project to a Singaporean company for an inflated price. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
26 October 2020, MVT 20:25

Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), on Monday, confirmed that it had launched a reinvestigation into Dharumavantha Hospital's case, which was formerly concluded to be devoid of corruption.

In 2017, former members of ACC had investigated the case and announced that no acts of corruption were involved in awarding the development project to a Singaporean company.

According to ACC's Spokesperson, the Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery had also requested ACC to probe the case further, while the corruption watchdog's investigation was ongoing.

In addition to Dharumavantha Hospital's case, the Asset Recovery Commission had requested ACC to reinvestigate other similar cases, which were declared corruption-free.

Although the presidential commission was initially tasked with investigating Dharumavantha Hospital's case, it was delegated to ACC, with concerns that such a high-profile case would be challenging and require a large number of investigators.

The largest healthcare centre built in Maldives till date, Dharumavantha Hospital was constructed during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration. Contracted over to Singapore's Shenhua Construction, it is the most expensive state-funded building, at USD 143 million (MVR 2.2 billion).

The cost of the project was repeatedly criticised by experts, who believe that a building with Dharumavantha Hospital's specifications can be constructed for one-third of the funds.

Specialists estimated the highest cost for the building at USD 40 million. As per these calculations, an additional MVR 1.5 billion was spent on the hospital.

Ex-President Yameen's administration contracted the project over to Shenhua Construction after amending the Public Finance Act, arguing that providing affordable healthcare was a priority despite the high cost.

The funds to build the hospital were secured from Shenhua and China Harbour Engineering Company, which is a subsidiary company of China Communications Construction Company, Ltd. (CCCC) that constructed the Sinamale' Bridge between capital Male' and reclaimed Suburb Hulhumale'.

Media reports state that Shenhua addressed an email to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital on January 15, 2016, stating that the 25-storey building can be completed for USD 140 million.

A week later Harbour Engineering reportedly sent a document to IGMH, revealing that the building could be completed for USD 53 million, which is cheaper by USD 86 million compared to Shenhua's price.

Local media Mihaaru reported that the Economic Council had defended Shenhua's price, although the USD 140 million did not include medical equipment or furnishing.

ACC's initial investigation did not take into account whether USD 140 million was a fitting price for just the construction of the building, as calculated by experts.