Ali Usaid, the local director of Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital, has filed cases at the police and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), accusing the hospital’s operator, Noorul Islam International Pvt Ltd of India, of major graft.
Noorul Islam International, which operates the renowned NIMS Hospital of India and holds 80 percent shares of Noorul Islam Educational Trust, was awarded operations of Haa Dhaal atoll Kulhudhuffushi island’s regional hospital on June 19, 2017 for a period of 50 years. Under the agreement, NIMS was to develop it to a multi-specialty tertiary hospital with 150 beds within a year and four months, and offer services such as MRI and CT scanning, major surgeries, specialist consultancies, diagnostics, laboratory services and treatments for genetic disorders.
However, soon after Noorul Islam took over the management, the Maldives’ health ministry declared that the hospital’s services were deteriorating. Noorul Islam’s managing director M.S. Faizal Khan had blamed Kulhudhuffushi Hospital’s local directors, accusing them of deliberately hindering hospital operations in a 14-letter letter to President Abdulla Yameen.
In his letter, Faizal Khan notably alleged that the local directors had misused USD 130,000 (MVR 2 million) that were transferred to their accounts for the hospital.
Usaid, who holds 20 percent shares of Noorul Islam, hit back at the accusations and told Mihaaru that Faizal’s claims were all false. Noting that Noorul Islam had agreed on a timeline when it first took over hospital operations, Usaid declared that the company had not accomplished anything according to agenda, including the software for the hospital’s services.
He also alleged that Noorul Islam had raised accusations against the local directors only after major activities of corruption committed by the company had surfaced. One such activity, according to Usaid, was that Noorul Islam had illicitly procured large amounts of money as Aasandha, the national healthcare insurance scheme of the Maldives.
“We looked into it when we heard they were committing deception and deceit by putting substantially huge prices on Aasandha bills; it became a huge issue. We checked and there was room to accuse [of corruption],” he said, claiming that he had documents to prove his allegations.
Usaid also refuted Faizal’s accusations of local directors misusing the money transferred to their accounts.
“I’m saying this with great assurance that USD 130,000 were not intermittently deposited to the accounts of Maldivian directors. If it were, please show us the remittance slip [as proof].”
According to Usaid, the management had brought the low number of doctors, which often halt services in the hospital, to Faizal Khan’s attention. However, he said that Faizal had simply suggested bringing in temporary doctors from nearby islands. Usaid claimed that, though they had informed Faizal that approaches used in India could not work in the Maldives, Noorul Islam had failed to provide a solution.
Usaid also responded to another issue raised by Faizal Khan in his letter to the president, where he had claimed that a CT Scanning machine, brought to the Maldives for Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital on November 12, 2017, had been “stuck” in Customs for two months due to delays in issuing permissions. Noorul Islam had alleged that such delays were being deliberately caused.
However, Usaid claimed that the delay was caused because Noorul Islam had not paid an amount of MVR 100,000 required to approve the machine through Customs.
Usaid went on to proclaim that he had looked into matters after they were brought to his attention, and his conclusion was, “[Noorul Islam] is not fit to run Kulhudhuffushi Hospital.”
He further stated that the Noorul Islam Educational Trust of India was founded to fund voluntary work. He said that he had only later found out that, under Indian law, the Trust could not partake in any business transactions to make profit.