The original Dhivehi article was published on Mihaaru.com website on 25th September 2017.
The following is a loose translation:
It has been years since *Fenaka Corporation‘s former top management officials had been marred by allegations of doing under deals, selling US dollars to several parties and favouring projects to ‘close people’. Amid the allegations, several cases against Fenaka was filed at Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). However, ACC did not look into any of those cases.
While some people were plundering the company in broad daylight there was no authoritative figure to investigate it. Those senior management officials were merely re-assigned, scattered to other places and only stripped of their powerful role.
A senior official who was aware of such malpractices said that some of the top management officials of the previous management ran the company as if it was their own business, without any discussions and took decisions on their own.
‘A generator might suddenly appear, to be taken to an island. We don’t even know where those generators were coming from and how they came up with the budget for that. There is no room for us to even ask about anything,’ the informant disclosed.
Another source who knew exactly what was going on at Fenaka said that all those took place in the past with the backing of many senior officials of the government.
‘They felt that the company belonged to them. They fired whoever they wanted, reshuffled the staff to different departments, gave jobs to whoever they wanted. There purchased items for powerhouses and dollars for the company violating the company’s procurement policies’ the source revealed.
Some senior officials still working at Fenaka Corporation also felt that in the past, things were done as how the top management felt. There was no one in the senior management team who was bold enough to even mention these things or question them.
‘The countless pilferages that were happening in this place finally burst and came out when a 17 million Rufiyaa cheque was dishonoured. But by then it was too late. Many had embezzled millions of rufiyaa through connections with the top management of this company,’ the staff revealed.
The extent of the losses the national treasury has to bear by these numerous illicit dealings of Fenaka is unknown. The audit report released last week by Auditor General Hassan Ziyath detailed the scale of the corruption in the company which was inflicted with powerful outside political influences and described by many as a ‘Nest’ of corruption. Corruptive methods of purchasing dollars, illegal means of purchasing fuel oil, awarding of projects to parties in a way which benefits to them and money lent in excessive amounts were highlighted as major concerns in the report.
After the release of the report, when ACC was asked about it, they said that even before the revelations of the report was published, several matters of corruption were already under investigation, since long time back.
Even though, ACC said that none of those investigations had been concluded.
The Auditor General’s report includes:
- 5 million Rufiyaa given as commission for buying dollars.
- 23 transactions amounting to 12.6 million Rufiyaa, were done without payment vouchers.
- 14 transactions amounting to 34 million Rufiyaa, were done without invoices.
- 95 million Rufiyaa released to private parties to purchase dollars
When Fenaka’s 2014 and 2015 audit report was released, Mohamed Nimal who was then the Managing Director was removed on 24 October 2016.
New MD amongst a sea of changes
After Nimal, he was replaced by former Deputy Minister of Education and Thimarafushi constituency member Ahmed Shareef.
Before Shareef took office, a quick audit was conducted by President’s Office and Ministry of Finance and Treasury. After that audit, President’s Office instructed to undertake a special audit in order to further assess the whole situation of the place.
‘President wanted me to be aware of the entire situation of the place when I took the post. Upon instruction of President’s Office, a rapid audit was done. After that I was assigned to this post. After that audit, instructions were given to bring some changes. Several reforms were brought to the old ways of doing things,’ said Shareef.
He said that the audit report released by Auditor General’s Office (AGO) was a special audit that was conducted upon directions by President’s Office. As per the audit, the identified changes are already being implemented.
‘Based on recommendations by the AGO, changes to the procurement policies are also happening. That was something which was out of control here,’ he said.
The new MD is making the necessary changes as identified in the audit report. He is specifically working on to request ACC for a probe, to find out the personals who were responsible for committing previous unlawful affairs in the company.
‘We have decided to ask for ACC’s assistance to find out who is responsible for all the missing money. We had to seek ACC’s assistance since the names of those perpetrators are not there in the report,’ said Shareef.
He said that those corruptions took place as there was no internal control system established inside the company.
‘There was no internal control back then. Now we have applied those changes. Previously, there was a board resolution on how money can be spent. This authorised the MD to spend up to 10 million Rufiyaa without the board’s approval. However, the amount has now been reduced to 2 million Rufiyaa,’ said Shareef.
In addition to that, it’s finalized to establish an internal audit in order to organise the internal matters of the company.
‘I am also going to form an internal audit department. Those misdeeds happened in the past due to having a weak board,’ said Shareef.
He said that the company faces emergency situations from time to time. A policy on how to proceed in such cases has to be drawn with the guidance from ACC and AGO.
The previous corruptions took placed at Fenaka, with the involvement and accountability of many parties. It is utmost important to find out those perpetrators and take legal action against them. The organization also needs to be restructured to prevent such misconducts from repeating. Or else we would again hear of some people ‘wiping out’ the company.
*Fenaka Corporation is a state-owned utility company with a mandate to provide island communities with electricity, water, sewerage and waste management services.