An audit has flagged corrupt and fraudulent practices in the purchase of three cars and a van by the Department of Judicial Administration in 2016.
According to a special audit of vehicle purchases, taxpayers on average paid three times more than the actual value and the supplier lied to the DJA when asking for extensions to the supply date. The DJA also failed to complete necessary checks before extending the supply date on five occasions, the audit found.
The price for the vehicles was estimated at MVR724,632 (US$43,031) but DJA paid MVR3.1 million.
The department – which is tasked with management of the courts – paid MVR477,000 each for three Nissan March cars and MVR1.6 million for a Toyota HiAce van. Auditors found that the maximum price for the same model of car was at MVR250,000 and MVR500,000 for the van in the Maldivian market.
Public finance rules stipulate that any purchase above MVR1.5 million must go through the National Tender Evaluation Board, the audit report noted. The DJA vehicle purchase was made under two agreements, one for the cars and one for the van.
Although the van purchase was valued at MVR1.6 million, the DJA did not go through the national tender board.
Under the two agreements, the supplier agreed to provide the vehicles within 40 days but the date was extended by 208 days for the cars and by 172 days for the van.
The supplier asked for extensions due to delays in shipping and customs clearance. But the audit found that the vehicles had been imported in 2014 and 2015, well ahead of the 2016 purchase agreement, which proved that the company lied about the reasons for extending the supply date.
The audit also found that the DJA did not ask for proof or supporting documents when it extended the supply deadline on several occasions. It also found that the extension of the supply deadline by several times more than the initial period was disproportionate.
Although the supplier agreed to provide vehicles manufactured after 2013, only one vehicle fit this criteria. The rest of the vehicles were manufactured in 2011 and 2012.
The audit also accused the transport ministry of fraud as the vehicle registrations were inconsistent with the export certificate. According to transport regulations, secondhand vehicles imported to the Maldives have to include its first registration date as provided on the export certificate from the country of origin in the Maldives registration for the vehicle.
However, the transport authority-issued Maldives registration provided dates that contradicted with the date of registration in the export certificates. The vehicles were registered in 2011, 2012 and 2013 according to the export certificates. The Maldives registration says the vehicles were first registered in 2016 and 2014.
The audit recommended legal action against those responsible for the purchase.