Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Head of Romania medical procurement firm Unifarm indicted over bribe-for-contract deal

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The head of Romanian state-owned drug and medical equipment procurement and distribution company Unifarm, Adrian Ionel, has been charged with corruption for allegedly demanding a bribe from a supplier of medical equipment needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak, Romanian prosecutors said.

Adrian Ionel has allegedly asked for a 760,000 euro ($860,000) bribe to help an unnamed company win a contract for the procurement of three million surgical masks and 250,000 medical protective suits, the Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to DNA, the director general of Unifarm met with company representatives in a restaurant in Bucharest to discuss the illicit arrangement. The company delivered one million masks which did not meet safety standards, DNA said.

Prosecutors also said that Adrian Ionel cancelled the contract when the bribe he demanded was not offered by the company.

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Adrian Ionel was placed under judicial control as the investigation unfolds, DNA said.

In March, the government announced it is granting a 1.15 billion lei ($268 million/ 237 million euro) loan to Unifarm for the urgent purchase of necessary sanitary materials and equipment to quell the coronavirus epidemic.

DNA chief prosecutor Crin Bologa told a news conference last month that prosecutors were probing 33 cases of suspected corruption related to the procurement of medical equipment needed to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

As of Wednesday, Romania has reported 24,505 cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) including 1,539 deaths.

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A report released by U.S.-based think-tank The Heritage Foundation earlier this month revealed that Romania is still struggling with high levels of corruption and abuse of power, and the inconsistency in the jurisprudence of the courts and interpretation of the laws remain major concerns.

(1 euro=4.8432 lei)

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