Sunday, 20 April 2014

MfD: EU health study links two Czech politicians to corruption

6 January 2014

Prague, Jan 4 (CTK) - Two Czech officials will enter Europe's awareness as corruption protagonists "owing to" an EU study on corruption in health care that mentions their suspicious practices as former Czech deputy health minister and regional governor, respectively, Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes Saturday.

The study describes Marek Snajdr (then member of the Civic Democratic Party, ODS), who was deputy health minister and head of the state-controlled VZP health insurer's supervisory board in the past years, as a Czech "Cardinal Richelieu" in view of his cumulation of posts and his strong influence on the country's health sector, MfD writes.

The study also describes details of the privatisation of hospitals run by the Central Bohemian region headed by governor Petr Bendl (ODS).

The hospitals first received abundant subsidies from the state and then the Bendl-led region sold them cheaply to private bidders, in some cases to mysterious companies with unknown owners, the paper writes, citing the EU study.

"My advantage is that I'm a private person now, which is why I don't have to comment on anything," Snajdr told MfD on Friday, when asked to comment on his European "fame."

Snajdr gave up his mandate of an ODS MP in late 2012 under circumstances that the police investigated as suspected political corruption until a court declared his activities covered by parliamentary immunity.

The police suspected Snajdr, along with another two rebel ODS MPs, of having resigned in exchange for lucrative posts in state firms and thereby enabling the passage of the then government's crucial tax package with which they disagreed.

Bendl was also transport minister and agriculture minister for the ODS that ended in opposition after the October 2013 general election in which he was re-elected a deputy.

The EU study says that the links between business and politics in the health area are very close in the Czech Republic and that large sums get embezzled through public procurement.

While the situation in bribing doctors has been improving, the purchases of medical equipment remain non-transparent and overpriced in the Czech Republic, the study says.

"With the inflow of EU money, the prices of medical equipment rose by 15 to 30 percent," it says.

Control mechanisms such as audits are ineffective in the Czech Republic and they are the least reliable of all EU countries', MfD cites from the study.

Corrupt deals would probably diminish only if companies based on bearer shares hold by anonymous owners are banned, the EU says.

It says the Czech Republic, where corruption mainly affects public procurement, ranks among the civilised countries in terms of prevailing types of corruption.

The farther to the east, the more the bribery affects the basic relation between patients and doctors, the study says.

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