National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) prosecutors are investigating alleged offences of malfeasance in office, active bribery and money laundering in a probe that is targeting the leadership and activity of Hexi Pharma. The criminal prosecution started on May 11, against the offence, judicial sources told Mediafax on Thursday.
Judicial sources have stated that DNA started its prosecution in the Hexi Pharma case as early as May 11, probing the offences of malfeasance in office, active bribery and money laundering.
Several persons have been summoned for hearings in this case. Flori Dinu (photo), Hexi Pharma General Manager, remanded on house arrest last Saturday and charged with 99 counts of fraud (continued offence) and 29 counts of fraud and improper involvement in thwarting the combating of diseases, arrived at the DNA headquarters at 9 a.m.
Flori Dinu left the DNA offices after four hours of hearings and did not make any statements for the journalists. Nevertheless, her lawyer stated that she is suspected of embezzlement, pointing out that his client was not placed under pre-trial arrest.
Miron Panaitescu, former Hexi Med CEO and friends with Dan Condrea, was heard for three hours at the Rahova Penitentiary.
Uliana Ochinciuc arrived at the DNA headquarters on Thursday morning, accompanied by her lawyer, in order to be heard by prosecutors. She made no statement for journalists at the moment of her arrival.
Her brother, who is a Hexi Pharma employee and who arrived at the DNA accompanied by his lawyer, was heard in the same case.
Hexi Pharma’s lawyer is also being heard by DNA prosecutors in the new case that concerns Hexi Pharma’s activity.
Lien on 23 buildings , 32 motor vehicles, pieces of equipment and bank accounts
Prosecutors with the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) have ordered a criminal probe of Hexi Pharma CO SRL drugs maker for tax evasion and of Flori Dinu, the CEO of the company, for being an accomplice to tax evasion.
Also in this case, Uliana Ochinciuc is investigated under court supervision for money laundering.
DNA argues that in 2008 – 2016, Hexi Pharma recorded fictitious business in its bookkeeping documents involving the purchase of assets in order to avoid taxation and decrease the tax due by 8 million lei, the amount estimated by investigators at this stage of the probe.
The prosecutors ordered a lien on ill-gotten mobile and immobile assets and bank accounts as a result of tax avoidance and money laundering, all assets subject to special confiscation powers, as follows: 23 buildings in Bucharest City and Ilfov County; 32 motor vehicles, pieces of equipment and installations for production purposes, bank accounts opened in Romania, Cyprus, Switzerland and Germany by the ones implicated in the commission of offences and those who stood to gain from the offences
Hospital managers, heard
The managers of hospitals that had contracts with Hexi Pharma have started to be heard in the case. They are being asked whether their hospitals will become plaintiffs in this case.
Around 280 hospitals have had contracts with Hexi Pharma over the years, at some point receiving diluted products whose contents were not in line with the labels, according to the data offered by the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Health Ministry.
The prosecutor handling the case has decided to send police officers to the hospitals concerned in order to ask the hospital managers whether the hospitals want to become plaintiffs in the case in order to recover the damages.
Both Hexi Pharma and its general manager are accused of serious fraud.
It is estimated that the procedure of hearing the hospital managers will last around two weeks, precisely because the number of hospitals concerned is so high.
The Economist: Death of a detergent salesman. Romania’s anti-corruption drive reveals another extraordinary tale
‘The Economist’ publishes an article that sums up the Hexi Pharma scandal, titled “Romania’s anti-corruption drive reveals another extraordinary tale.” The article’s main headline is “death of a detergent salesman,” a pun which is a slightly ironical allusion to Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”
“UNTIL a month ago Dan Condrea was, to all appearances, a successful Romanian businessman. His company, Hexi Pharma, made a healthy income supplying disinfectant to Romanian hospitals. That was before a team of journalists revealed that Hexi Pharma had been diluting its products, possibly causing patients to die from antibiotic-resistant infections. On May 22nd Mr Condrea drove his car into a tree. Witnesses said he was going over 60mph, and police said there were no signs of an attempt to brake. It took over a week to confirm that the badly damaged body was his.
The public reaction since the scandal broke in late April has been furious. The health minister was forced to resign on May 9th after he tried to play down the seriousness of the situation. The health ministry has withdrawn all Hexi Pharma products from hospitals.
Journalists began looking into hospital supplies after another scandal, a fire in Bucharest last October at a nightclub that violated safety regulations. The fire left 27 dead at the scene; a further 37 died later, and doctors said many had succumbed to infections picked up in hospital. Reporters at Gazeta Sporturilor, a sports newspaper, found that disinfectant supplied by Hexi Pharma had been diluted, in some cases to just one-tenth of the concentration on the label.
“People here didn’t realise what a killing machine many Romanian hospitals are,” says Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, a Romanian corruption expert. Over the past nine years Hexi Pharma has had contracts to supply more than 350 hospitals across Romania, including two of Bucharest’s biggest emergency hospitals. The disinfectant it sold was often heavily marked up in price.
Hexi Pharma was indicted last month, and Mr Condrea had been due to be questioned by prosecutors the day after the crash. Many have asked how a small company managed to win so many public contracts. A report by the same group of journalists accuses hospital directors of taking a 30% cut of contracts with Hexi Pharma, and suggested that this practice is widespread in the Romanian health-care sector.
Romania ranks near the bottom in Europe on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, yet recently the country has been trying to clean up its act. Last year Romania’s National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) prosecuted more than 1,250 people, including a former prime minister, five ministers and 16 members of parliament. The DNA’s director, Laura Codruta Kovesi, says the health-care sector is a priority target. For many in Romania, however, the Hexi Pharma scandal is proof that change is not happening fast enough, “writes The Economist.
Gov’t spokesman on inspection reports on disinfectant procurement: More complex than it seems
The inquiry into the procurement of disinfectants by hospitals has been going on for quite long because the situation is more complex than it looks at first sight, governmental Spokesman Dan Suciu told a news briefing at the Government House on Thursday.
Asked about what reports Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos had in mind two weeks previously when he was claiming that there were dedicated contracts for the procurement of disinfectants, Suciu said the reports will be made public when all the requirements are met to do so.
“We will make them public, when they meet the requirements and the prime minister signs that he has learned about the situation. (…) When the inquiry is over. By our estimates, the inquiry has been going on for quite a long time because the situation is more complex than it seems at first sight; allow me to come up with details when the inquiry of the control team is over. (…) The control teams of the prime minister and the Health Ministry are currently conducting inquiries at various hospitals and one hospital is currently being inspected, while others were inspected in the previous weeks,” said Suciu, according to Agerpres.
He added that it should be remembered that part of the inquiry is into criminal offences and the control team may submit findings to prosecutors if it so wishes. “Please, do not ask me to say whether or not such documents have been sent to prosecutors, because I do not want to talk about a procedure that regards an ongoing criminal probe,” said Suciu.
Asked whether or not the prime minister made his statements two weeks previously based on findings of the control team, Suciu said they were based on findings as of that time.
“They were made based on findings as of that time (…) coming from all the institutions under the prime minister’s coordination. At the time, he was also acting health minister, so he got information from the ministry and the ministry’s control team as well. So, there is much information that has to be corroborated and structured as thus. (…) Part of the information could be included in the criminal probe,” said Suciu.