|Defendant Nguyễn Quốc Anh, former director of Bạch Mai Hospital (first row, left) at the trial on Thursday in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Văn Điệp|
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội’s People's Court on Thursday opened the first instance trial on the inflation of prices of medical equipment in Bạch Mai Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in Việt Nam under the management of the Ministry of Health.
Former director of Bạch Mai Hospital Nguyễn Quốc Anh admitted violations in price gouging of medical equipment and took responsibility for signing a joint venture contract between Bạch Mai Hospital and BMS Company to appraise and raise the prices of equipment.
In April last year, Nguyễn Quốc Anh and seven defendants were prosecuted by the Supreme People’s Procuracy for the crime of abusing power and position while performing their official duties according to Article 356, Clause 3 of the Penal Code.
Nguyễn Quốc Anh was the director of Bạch Mai Hospital when the alleged wrongdoings took place.
The other defendants are Nguyễn Ngọc Hiền, former vice director of Bạch Mai Hospital, Trịnh Thi Thuận and Lý Thị Ngọc Thủy, former chief accountant and deputy head of finance at the hospital, Phạm Đức Tuấn and Ngô Thị Thu Huyền, director and deputy director of BMS Medical Technology Joint Stock Company (BMS), Trần Lê Hoàng, an appraiser from the Hanoi Valuation and Financial Services JSC (VFS) and Phạm Minh Dung, former director general of VFS.
During the investigation, Nguyễn Quốc Anh and Nguyễn Ngọc Hiền were detained while the remaining defendants were released on bail.
At the trial, defendant Lý Thị Ngọc Thuỷ filed an application for trial in absentia due to illness and had a hospital certificate.
The trial panel approved Thuỷ's application for a trial in absentia.
To prepare for the trial, the panel summoned 37 victims but only three were present.
The trial also summoned a number of other people including representatives of Bạch Mai Hospital, BMS Medical Technology Company (now Life Energy Company), VFS Valuation Joint Stock Company and a number of others.
According to the indictment announced at the trial, in the process of signing a joint venture contract at Bạch Mai Hospital, defendant Nguyễn Quốc Anh and others took advantage of their duties and powers to violate the provisions of the law.
Defendants Trần Lê Hoàng and Phan Minh Dung evaluated the price of robotic systems for cranial nerve surgery – the Rosa Robot – at VNĐ39 billion (US$1.7 million) to allow BMS Medical Technology Joint Stock Company to join a joint venture with Bạch Mai Hospital to install the robotic system.
Specifically, on February 20, 2017, VFS Company issued a valuation certificate showing that Rosa Robot costs VNĐ39 billion, but three days later, this robot was imported from France for VNĐ7.4 billion ($319,000), including taxes.
The increased purchase price of the robotic system brought profits to the collective and individual defendants with Nguyễn Quốc Anh benefitting more than VNĐ331 million.
Defendants Nguyễn Ngọc Hiền and Trịnh Thị Thuận were determined to benefit by VNĐ150 million and VNĐ50 million, respectively.
The investigation showed that from February 2017 to May 2020, Bạch Mai Hospital used Rosa Robot to perform cranial surgery for 639 cases, collecting more than VNĐ22.9 billion (US$1 million) and the hospital paid the costs related to 551 cases to BMS Company.
According to the assessment, the cost of surgery with Robot Rosa was more than VNĐ6.6 million per case but the hospital and BMS Company charged patients more than VNĐ23 million.
The difference was more than VNĐ16.5 million per case, causing more than VNĐ10 billion in damage to the patients.
During questioning, Nguyễn Quốc Anh admitted the violations and responsibility for signing a joint venture contract between the hospital and BMS Company which led to errors in the appraisal and increase of the medical equipment price.
Nguyễn Quốc Anh admitted to receiving from defendant Phạm Đức Tuấn a total of VNĐ100 million and US$10,000.
However, defendant Nguyễn Quốc Anh said that the money was just a gift for holidays and Tết.
At the trial, defendants Nguyễn Ngọc Hiền and Trịnh Thị Thuận also admitted their violations.
The trial will continue on Friday. — VNS