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Health insurance company funded jogging track

Aug 08, 2019

Male (Maldives) August 08: Aasandha spent MVR9.5 million (US$615,000) on a jogging track and funded camps organised by former first lady Fathmath Ibrahim's charity foundation, the government health insurance company's top officials alleged on Tuesday.
Ibrahim Rasheed, assistant managing director, told lawmakers on parliament's state-owned enterprises oversight committee that the new management has uncovered several cases of illegal expenditure sanctioned during the former administration.
Under the guise of a corporate social responsibility project, Aasandha spent US$615,000 on a 700-meter synthetic jogging track at the Rasfannu beach in Male, which was developed by the infrastructure ministry in 2016.
"The money was spent because the National Social Protection Agency told Aasandha through a letter to release the funds," Rasheed tolds MPs.
A detailed report of flagged expenses has been submitted to police and the Anti-Corruption Commission, he added.
According to Rasheed, Aasandha also gave US$12,300 to the former first lady's charity organisation in 2016 and 2017.
"The company's documents clearly show that we spent US$7,706 in 2016 and US$4,594 in 2017 on circumcision camps run by the Sadaqat Foundation," he said.
The jogging track at the capital's western waterfront was first developed by a Singapore company in a project that drew criticism over delays and the quality of work. A local company was later enlisted to repair the track after the synthetic rubber layer unravelled.
The revelations by Aasandha sparked outrage as the state-owned company is tasked with managing the non-contributory health insurance scheme, unlike some state-owned companies that operate for profit. Last September, the World Health Organisation recommended an urgent review to make the scheme sustainable and more efficient.
It emerged in March this year that the anti-corruption watchdog was investigating suspected misappropriation of Aasandha funds by former government officials.
Several cases of alleged misuse of funds by state-owned companies have come to light since the change of government in November.
Nearly MVR2 million was spent by a tourism company to build an office for the former ruling party, and MVR2.5 million was diverted from the Maldives Gas company to finance a mosque that was built as a welfare project of the former first lady.
Other state-owned enterprises were also alleged to have diverted funds for former president Abdulla Yameen's re-election campaign.
In January 2017, the anti-graft watchdog ruled out corruption in the distribution of dates gifted by Saudi Arabia under the name of the first lady's charity. The former first lady also came under fire for handing out cash and distributing medicine and vaccines during an influenza outbreak.
Source: Maldives Independent