Main suspect in Romanian healthcare procurement scandal killed in car accident

Main suspect in Romanian healthcare procurement scandal killed in car accident
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest May 23, 2016

Dan Condrea, the owner of Hexi Pharma, the firm at the centre of a major scandal related to public procurement in Romania’s healthcare system, reportedly died in a car accident on May 22.

A recent investigation by Gazeta Sporturilor revealed that Hexi Pharma had supplied heavily diluted disinfectants Romanian hospitals for several years. This sparked fury within Romania, where dozens of people died of infections in hospital after the Club Colectiv nightclub fire in 2015.

Condrea was expected to make a statement to prosecutors on May 23, the day after he died.

He was reportedly driving his company car on a road between Buftea and Corbeanca near Bucharest, when he crashed into a tree.

“The technical report will show the speed of the car and the causes of the accident. We are exploring all the scenarios, including suicide,” police spokesperson Claudia Burada said, quoted by hotnews.ro. The body was identified by Condrea’s relatives, but a DNA test will be carried out as well.

Gazeta Sporturilor’s editor in chief Catalin Tolontan revealed a network of firms headed by Condrea had taken control of hospitals’ acquisitions of disinfectants, cleaning and IT services, with the complicity of the heads of most of the state institutions related to the healthcare system. The most visible company in the group is Hexi Pharma, which has delivered low-quality products to most Romanian hospitals for years.

The media has played a leading role in urging prosecutors to initiate official procedures. Initially, the healthcare ministry played down the magnitude of the problems related to the sub-standard quality of the disinfectants delivered by Hexi Pharma, but as this proved to be false, Heathcare Minister Patriciu Achimas-Cadariu had to resign on May 9.

Three days earlier, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos had instructed the healthcare minister to investigate the situation related to the disinfectants used in hospitals, after the scandal broke. Hexi Pharma disinfectants have now been banned from hospitals.

Condrea’s death followed speculation about the involvement of top officials, possibly from within the intelligence services (SRI), in the scandal. The speculation was prompted by the lack of action from key institutions, including the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).

Official investigations were started only after the independent media proved the ministry had attempted to cover up evidence, and revealed the magnitude of the frauds, which have continued for more than ten years with the alleged complicity of a large number of officials within many public institutions.

Sebastian Ghita, an MP with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and a member of the parliamentary committee that supervises the activity of the intelligence service (SRI) has urged the SRI to make public the evidence it has on the accident – implying that SRI officers must have monitored Condrea’s activity since his involvement in such a major scandal. However, another member of the committee, Cezar Preda of the National Liberal Party (PNL) said SRI was not supposed, by the law, to spy on Condrea at this point in the investigation.

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