MPL and FSM come under fire over MVR28.3m stolen fuel

An Auditor General’s Office report recently showed heavy discrepancies in Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) accounts.

The report confirms over MVR28.3 million of diesel supplied to the company by Fuel Supplies Maldives (FSM) were siphoned out.

The report had evaluated the fuel purchase transactions of MPL from 2018 to 2020. The significant figure indicates involvement of both MPL and FSM staff in the graft, according to Auditor General’s Office report.

Meanwhile, it has been reported MPL fired several of its employees over their involvement in the scandal earlier in 2021.

According to the report, the stolen (or misplaced) fuel amounts of;

  • MVR9.6 million – worth diesel issued to operate MPL’s power generators
  • MVR18.5 million – worth fuel towards operating tug boats
  • MVR127,616 – to operate the RTG cranes

Additionally, the misplaced fuel includes 799,900 liters of diesel, worth MVR7.2 million which FSM supplied via its bowsers to MPL Hulhumale’ commercial harbor site. The fuel was reportedly transferred to refuel the tug boats which operated at the site.

However, the boat captains claim the vessels were not refueled accordingly.

The report also suggests the delivery notes confirmed that the vessels did not operate, on the day they were claimed to have been refueled.

Moreover, from 2018 to November 2020, request forms sent to MPL procurement stores duplicated using forged signatures. Most of these forms reflected an amended date, while the bills collectively amount to MVR13.42 million.

According to MPL regulations, recurrent fuel requirements need to be communicated exclusively through their mail communication channel – email. However, most of the recurrent fuel procurement requests were handled via telephone calls, in breach of MPL regulations.

The Highlights

The audit report listed out several issues the Auditor General’s Office discovered. Which include;

  • Commercial harbor operations declined significantly in 2020 in comparison with 2021; however the fuel purchase in 2020 was 59% higher than the following year
  • Fuel purchase limit was reduced in 2021 in comparison to 2020 to bring a positive change to internal controls
  • A 2019 audit assessing fuel usage in powering MPL generators indicate, majority of procured diesel were either misplaced or lost. However, no internal probe was conducted from individual department levels to seek how the fuel was misplaced
  • Signed delivery note by the assistant manager of MPL Hulhumale’ harbor’s procure store was a misdirection to falsify fuel purchase for the tug boats – the report confirms this fuel was never supplied

Recommendations of Auditor General’s Office

The authority set out nine distinct recommendations for MPL to follow. Which include;

  • Identifying the parties liable in the graft, file a formal case against them with Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Maldives Police Service; and request further investigations by the authorities
  • Claim damages from the culpable parties
  • Collect fuel consumption reports from all relevant (individual) departments to assess fuel usage for overall MPL operations, and use them fore forecasting
  • Install fuel gauges or meters in MPL fuel tanks and other storage units (inclusive of tug boats and other vessels) to measure exact fuel usage
  • Purchase orders should include supporting documents with valid authorization and signature from responsible parties, if and when delivery venues or purchased quantities are amended

MPL CEO Shahid Ali, confirms firing the culpable parties after an internal review.

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