Police charge nine in nationwide tender fixing scandal involving Polish subsidiary of U.S. pharma concern
Polish authorities have charged nine highly placed hospital employees and U.S. pharma concern bookkeepers with corruption in one of the largest investigations into tenders in recent health sector history, the Polish media reported, Oct.23.
“Nine people have been charged with 28 counts […] of corruption to do with tenders for the supply of orthopedic apparatus from an American concern,” Polish TV station TVN24 reported. “[…] The investigation was launched after information was given to the Polish authorities by the FBI.”
Police are probing 51 hospitals across the country where tenders may have been fixed between the years 2003 and 2006.
U.S concern Stryker Corp’s Polish subsidiary, Stryker Polska, allegedly set up a special fund to bribe doctors and hospital directors, according to the Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza. After Stryker won a tender, the medical official involved would reportedly receive a percentage of the tender value in the form of an expensive holiday, for example.
On Oct. 22, police arrested the director of two hospitals based in central Poland. Bozena W. reportedly received PLN 22,000 in exchange for speeding up the payment for apparatus delivered by the concern. The bribe came to 1.5 percent of each of the hospital’s outstanding invoices and was reportedly hidden in fictional contracts signed with Bozena W.’s son.
Bozena W.’s arrest is the result of confessions made by two former Stryker Polska employees who admitted that the concern corrupted hospital staff and indicated what to look for in the company’s confidential files.
The police also arrested Grzegorz P., Stryker Polska’s general director, in July of this year. He is accused of personally setting up bank accounts for doctors, to which Stryker transferred thousands of Swiss francs. The transfers coincide in time with the conclusions of tenders and signing of contracts.
The investigation was launched after the Polish authorities received a heads up from U.S. internal security, the FBI, who came across suspicious emails written by Stryker Polska employees.
Stryker Polska has refused to comment on the affair.