bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Saturday 15.12.2018 | Name days: Jana, Johanna, Hanna
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania’s corruption buster: firms donating to hospitals stand better chance in tenders

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The majority of the winners of the tenders organised by major Lithuanian hospitals have expressed their gratitude to the health providers by making donations to them in the form of financial support.

The scheme spans at least 10 major Lithuanian hospitals, including the Santaros Clinics in Vilnius, the Kaunas Clinics in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, and the main hospitals in the towns of Panevėžys and Šiauliai. The corrupt dealings were revealed this by Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service (STT) this week.

According to it, supporters of hospitals or related associations have a clear edge in winning public procurement tenders. There have been a number of cases of the kind, according to STT.

That Lithuanian hospitals favour certain suppliers has long been a topic of the rumour mill, and the media too, however only now STT, the corruption watchdog, is ringing alarm bells.

Asked about the timing, Renata Endružytė, the Communications head of the Service, told BNN that STT commences a probe only when it has gathered «sufficient evidence” of a corrupt activity.

«The Service has been gathering the evidence in form of different data for the last couples of years,» she accentuated.

According to her, the investigation into the procurement deals at the Santara Clinics is still ongoing, however she could not say if the kind of probe will be expanded to other Lithuanian hospitals.

«The nature of the Santara Clinics investigation is not only legal but also analytical,» Endružytė emphasised.

So far, pre-trial investigations have been commenced not only in the Santara Clinics, but in some other hospitals, too.

Jovitas Raskevičius, a deputy director at STT, said the probe shows that the Santaros Clinics in Vilnius, Kaunas Clinics as well as the main hospitals in Šiauliai and Panevėžys dominate in such schemes.

«After we launched a pre-trial investigation against the Santaros Clinics, we also wanted to look into whether the same phenomenon is characteristic of other hospitals,» he told journalists this week.

In late February of the year, suspicions have been brought against eight individuals at the Santaros Clinics and the number was expected to rise.

STT suspected them of having been involved in the mechanism of demanding, allocation and use of illicit support. At the cusp of the probe at the Santaros Clinics was its director Kęstutis Strupas as well as other three other employees.

Strupas has been suspended from his job on suspicions of abuse of power amid the scandal. Bribery suspicions have also been brought against the clinic’s Information and Development Center director Romualdas Kizlaitis and two IT project managers. Other four suspects included representatives of private companies.

Among the mentioned names implicated in the Santara hospital scheme, was Atea, a company of the Norwegian-owned IT solutions group Atea Baltic. Santaros in early November 2017 signed a 502,500-euro computer and software contract with Atea. That followed the signing in late July 2017 of a firewall purchase and installation contract worth almost 150,000 euros with Atea and Fortevento. Prosecutors suspected representatives of the Santaros Clinic demanded unlawful financial rewards from the companies for granted public procurement tenders, estimated at nearly 2 million euros in 2017 alone.

Strupas, the hospital director, stepped down with dismissal looming.

According to STT, 87 legal persons provided financial donations to the Santaros Clinics in 2013-2016, and they accounted for more than a fifth of all winners of public procurement tenders. They secured contracts worth 130 million euros, o 72 per cent of the total value of the hospital’s public procurement.

Separately, STT also looked into alleged corruption at the Santaros Clinics in 2015-2017. It identified 319 legal persons who won the hospital’s public tenders worth almost 164 million euros. Out of these, 123 had provided support for more than 4 million euros to the hospital itself or related support receivers. STT pays attention to the fact that these financial donors won 87 per cent (more than 142 million euros) of the Santaros Clinics’ public procurement tenders.

In other case of the sort, during 2013- 2016, 52 legal bodies, or 11 per cent of all tender winners, allocated financial donations to the Kaunas Clinics and won 56 per cent, equalling to 150 million euros, of the tenders’ total value.

In tenders organised by the Republican Šiauliai hospital, 40 companies, i.e. 18 per cent of all tender winners, made «support» payments to it after winning 56 per cent, or 33 million euros, of the hospital’s tenders’ total value. In the Panevėžys hospital, the numbers stood at 27 per cent and 66 per cent respectively.

STT officials refrain from naming the companies involved but plan to turn to the Public Procurement Service and other institutions.

Raskevičius, of STT, says the existing situation might be down to legal flaws and the lack of control.

«A mechanism for covering-up received support exists and whether it’s down to legal imperfections or lack of control, I think, we’ll get the answers in the future,» he told journalists.

He exhorted local businesses to inform of tender organisers’ suspicious hints to support them.

«We will scrutinise each case of the kind. At the moment, we do not have information incriminating anybody, however we see the numbers that speak for themselves,» the STT official said.

According to Lina Bušinskaitė- Šriubėnė, spokeswoman of the Lithuanian Health Minister, Aurelijus Veryga, the Ministry «values very much” the STT analysis and the facts about the shady schemes of support to Lithuanian hospitals and the revealed connection between it and the winning of the hospitals’ tenders.

«Nevertheless, these facts did not surprise us, as the information gathered by the team of the Ministry’s Corruption Prevention Department, has shown a very similar situation,» she told BNN.

According to her, the Ministry has drawn up and sent out special recommendations to the country’s medical facilities instructing them how to ensure maximum transparency in their activity.

To improve the situation, the Ministry suggests that medical facilities obtain status of support recipient and that they make information about received financial donations accessible to the public.

«We also suggest to obligate medical facilities to announce publicly how they use received financial support. Is it used for promoting the medics’ skills or (are they used) for enhancing the public health and so on,» Bušinskaitė- Šriubėnė said.

Lithuania’s effort into combating corruption ought to be firmer, several international corruption prevention watchdogs have said. Yet the country is slowly but steadily improving its score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index – it was 38th among the 180 ranked countries in 2017. On the list, Lithuania is ahead of Latvia and Poland, although still behind Estonia and most of Western Europe. According to Eurobarometer, corruption experience among business managers has decreased from 21 per cent in 2015 to 7 per cent in 2017.


Leave a reply

Experts: fiscal consolidation is unavoidable next year

The new government will have to perform fiscal consolidation when compiling the state budget for 2019. This opinion was sent to the Saeima and Cabinet of Ministers by the Fiscal Discipline Council in relation to the 13th Saeima’s approval of amendments for the Healthcare Law that provide for a 20% wage increase for doctors starting next.

Ventspils opposition: the Constitution stands above municipality’s opinions on city governance

«For us to work to our full capacity, we require information and stay in the loop. If the work of the city council was organized during meetings of the city council and committees, we would have this opportunity. But because the work of the city council is put under other institutions – committees, in this case – and we [majority of opposition deputies] are not allowed to participate in those meetings and receive documents, this means our rights as deputies and voters are being limited. This, we believe, is the most important aspect to be breached,» said Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis said during a hearing of the Administrative Court in Liepaja in regards to Ventspils City Council’s refusal to adopt proportionality principles in committees and other structures.

EU offers Britons clarification, but no renegotiation of Brexit deal

European Union member state leaders and the blocs top officials have stated at a summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, that the Brexit withdrawal agreement that lacks clear support in UK parliament was not open for renegotiation.

Estonia raises minimum wage

The minimum monthly wage in Estonia has been approved at the level of 540 euros, which is an increase from 500 euros.

This year e-signature was used to sign more than 5.7 million documents in Latvia

This year, e-signature was used more than half a million times a month in Latvia. A total of 5.7 million documents have been signed using this function in Latvia so far. More than 25,000 now use e-signature function on their smart-phones.

Trump distances himself from crimes committed by his lawyer

Reacting to the conviction of American lawyer Michael Cohen over campaign funding violations, U.S. President Donald Trump has distanced himself from the lawyer and accused him of attempts to embarrass Trump.

New Unity starts consultations with parties on forming government with Kariņš in charge

New Unity will insist on getting Finance Ministry in the new government, because it is only logical to have this ministry managed by the prime minister’s party, says NU representative and Saeima deputy Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš.

Strasbourg terrorist «neutralised» after opening fire on police

The attacker suspected of killing two people and injuring 12 more people at a Strasbourg Christmas market has been shot dead by French police.

Next week in Latvia to start off with snowfall

The end of the week is not expected to have any major weather changes in Latvia, whereas next week will start off with snowfall and gradual decline of air temperature, promises Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Court arrests Harmony sponsor and Honour to Serve Riga party member

Riga City Vidzeme District Court issued an arrest to businessman Aleksandrs Krjačeks on Thurday, 13 December. He was previously detained by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in the criminal case regarding procurements organized by SIA Rīgas satiksme, as confirmed by the man’s lawyer Valdis Ulmanis.

Saeima: increase of doctors’ wages should be a government priority

When preparing the budget plan for the next three years, the government should allocate money for the 20% increase of doctors’ wages. This is provided by changes to Healthcare Financing Law, approved by the Saeima in two readings on Thursday, 13 December.

airBaltic to perform more flights between Riga and Liepaja

During a visit today in Liepaja CEO of Latvian airline airBaltic Martin Gauss announced that airBaltic will increase the number of domestic flights between Riga and Liepaja from three to five weekly as of summer season 2019.

Court arrests Škoda commercial director; CPCB request arrests for two more people

Latvian court has arrested Škoda commercial director Vladislav Kozak following a request from Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in relation to the criminal case regarding procurements performed by Rīgas satiksme.

EY: investments in crypto currency offers have largely failed

86% of 141 initial crypto currency offers presented last year have lost value over the course of the first eight months of this year. Additionally 30% of them have lost nearly all of their value, according to Initial Coin Offerings study by EY.

Estonian criminal figure convicted in Ireland

A court in Ireland has convicted Estonian criminal figure Imre Arakas, finding him guilting of conspiracy to murder.

As income increase, housing becomes more accessible in all Baltic capitals

Housing Accessibility Index improved in all Baltic capitals in Q3 2018. The main factor for this was the growth of average net salaries. Additionally, beneficial economic development also improved households’ interest for housing acquisition, which was reflected both in increased activity on the apartment market and household loan portfolio growth.

Lithuanian PM suspects Kremlin-backed opposition behind teacher attacks

The nearer municipal council, presidential and EP elections, the more sparkles Lithuania’s political leadership spews out. With the linguistic weaponry exhausted in the Seimas, the party leaders seek help from intelligence services.

EP proposes stricter monitoring of militants returning to Europe to combat terrorism better

The European Parliament has presented proposals for better measures against radicalization, better data exchange and support of victims of terrorism, as well as several other proposals for European Union’s strategy for terrorism prevention.

Latvian media organizations found Media Ethics Council

On Wednesday, 12 December, Latvian Media Ethics Council was founded. It is a public organization meant to unite media organizations and legal persons associated with the media sector and supervise compliance with the council’s statutes and code of ethics, the council explains.

U.S. President's former lawyer sentenced to prison

The former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump has been handed a prison sentence for violations of the rules of election campaign. A New York court has sentenced Michael Cohen to three years in federal prison.

Latvian parties hear New Unity leader’s offer; opinions on coalition still differ

Political parties in Latvia are prepared to listen to New Unity and its prime minister candidate Krišjāņis Kariņš’s initiative in the government formation process.

British PM stays after no-confidence vote, attends EU summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May has survived a no-confidence vote in her ruling Conservative Party and on Thursday attends a summit of the European Union.

European Parliament ratifies EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

On Wednesday, 12 December, gave green light for EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which is EU’s all-time largest mutual trade agreement.

Businessman Māris Martinsons brought to court. What will the court decide?

Businessman Māris Martinsons has been brought to testify in court. As it is known, he was detained by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on 11 December.

Employers become more open to 3rd level pension contributions

Employers in Latvia have begun making more active contributions to 3rd level pension plans. Residents’ interest towards crating pension savings continues growing, too. Compared to the period of last year, the size of contributions to private pension funds has increased 10% in the first nine months of 2018.

Newest comments