Conducting COVID-19 tests using RT-PCR technology. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Seven officials from Hà Nội’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and related companies confessed to the police they had jacked up the price of the COVID-19 testing machines by a factor of three, the Ministry of Public Security has said.
Deputy Minister of Public Security Lương Tam Quang said the defendants had promised to return the money.
On April 22, the police detained and launched criminal proceedings against Nguyễn Nhật Cảm, director of Hà Nội CDC and six others for jacking up prices of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) machines used in testing the new coronavirus.
“Initial investigation showed the defendants had colluded with companies to jack up the prices of a COVID-19 testing equipment bidding package by three times,” Quang told media at a Government press meeting this week.
After the case at Hà Nội CDC was revealed to the public, the police department for corruption, economic crimes and smuggling discovered abnormal signs in purchasing testing equipment in some other localities.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc ordered the health ministry and local people’s committees to inspect the purchase of medical equipment and medicine for the pandemic, especially bidding packages of testing machines, ventilators, chemicals and face masks.
Media reported each RT-PCR machine costs VNĐ2.3 billion (US$100,000). Hà Nội CDC purchased them at prices of up to VNĐ7 billion ($304,000). — VNS