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Ending impunity for grand corruption in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Health System Procurements - Ending impunity for grand corruption in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Health System Procurements

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Introduction

During the first term of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama (2013-2017), the Albanian Government procured four major services for the public health system through private-public partnerships. Opposition parties opposed procurement of the four services and the media criticised their efficiency, their cost and irregularities in the public procurement procedures.

Country
Albania
Sector
Health & Pharma
Offence
Abuse of power; Active corruption in elections
Phase
No charges have been submitted

Timeline

Suspicion
Official detection
Prelim. investigation
Investigation
Settlement
Indictment filed
Court accepts case
1st instance procedure
1st instance verdict
2nd instance procedure
2nd instance verdict
3rd instance procedure
3rd instance verdict
Extraordinary remedy
Pardon
Enforcement
No charges have been submitted
No criminal procedures

Main Details of the Offence Committed

During the first term of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama (2013-2017), the Albanian Government procured four major services for the public health system through private-public partnerships. Opposition parties opposed procurement of the four services and the media criticised their efficiency, their cost and irregularities in the public procurement procedures.

The Ministry of Health, led by Ilir Beqaj, organised the procurement. The procured services were for (1) health checks for adults between the ages of 40 and 65 years old, (2) sterilisation of hospital equipment, (3) laboratory services and (4) haemodialysis. The contracts had a minimum total value of approximately €310 million and each contract was valid for ten years. The fourth contract for haemodialysis was signed during the second term of the Socialist government when Beqaj was no longer minister for health, but the bidding process started under his tenure.

The Ministry of Health declared the winner of the contract to perform health checks on 6 October 2014. The winning operator, 3P Life Logistik, was a joint venture between Marketing & Distribution, which held 80 per cent of its shares, and Trimed sh.p.k. Before the procurement, the main business of Marketing & Distribution was the sale of office goods while the main activity of Trimed sh.p.k was the sale of pharmaceuticals. In order to take part in the procurement, they had to obtain a licence to build biochemical laboratories, which was issued just two days before the deadline for submission of bids. Also, their bid was the highest. The ministry estimated that the cost of the procurement should be proportional to the number of patients and would amount to 13.8 billion leks (approximately €100 million). Contrary to the official statement, the opposition Democratic Party argued that the real value of the procurement should actually be a million euros less.

The opposition Democratic Party filed criminal charges with the Special Prosecution Office (SPAK) against the Ministry of Health and the owners of the winning operator for the provision of health checks.

The ministry declared the winner of the contract for the sterilisation of hospital equipment on 28 September 2015. The winning bid came from Servizi Italia Spa, which is a merger of three Italian companies: Servizi Italia, Tecnosanimed, U.Jet S.r.l. However, a Kosovo-based company, Investital LLC, owns 40 per cent of the consortium. The declared cost of the contract is 9.6 billion leks (approximately €68.8 million). The opposition Democratic Party has made the accusation that this value is 80 times greater than previous spending on the sterilisation of hospital

Abuse of power, Article 248 of the Penal Code; Active corruption of officials, Article 244 of the Penal Code; Passive corruption of officials, Article 259 of the Penal Code

Beqaj is a former minister for health and a member of the ruling Socialist Party.

2014-2019

Health & Pharma

Jurisdiction(s)

N/A

Procedural Details

No charges have been submitted

The Serious Crimes Prosecution Office officially opened an investigation into the four procurements for the health system in December 2015. After nearly one-and-a-half years, the office declared the investigations closed in May 2017 without bringing any charges or indictments.

However, a civic group called Nisma Thurje submitted charges against public officials in the health ministry involved in the contract for the sterilisation of hospital equipment with the newly constituted Special Prosecution Office (SPAK) on 23 December 2019.

Also, the Supreme State Audit Institution has conducted audits of the four awarded contracts to determine the merit of the contracts and the existence of any hidden costs. The audit reports make recommendations to amend the contracts, but do not push for any criminal proceedings.

The opposition Democratic Party also submitted charges with SPAK against the health minister and others for the procurement related to health checks.

The investigation by the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office appeared to be passive and lacked transparency, which raises suspicions that the political establishment meddled in the cases.

Outcome of the Case

No charges

None

None

None

None