Bolivian Health Minister Marcelo Navajas has been arrested, the Bolivian police chief said on Wednesday. He is suspected of corruption after buying at an overvalued rate of 179 respirators designed for patients in Covid-19
Bolivian Health Minister Marcelo Navajas, suspected of corruption during the purchase of 179 respiratory protection for sick people from Covid-19 from a Spanish company, was arrested on Wednesday, May 20, the Bolivian police chief said.
“He is being held in the Special Crime Prevention Force (FELCC) premises in La Paz,” said the commander of this unit, Colonel Ivan Rojas, a day after Bolivian President Jeanine Añez ordered the opening of “an investigation into” possible corruption “regarding this buy.
Bolivia bought medical equipment from a Spanish company at a unit price of $ 27,683. However, the company offered them at a price that ranged from 9,500 to 11,000 euros (between 10,102 and 11,941 dollars).
Two other officials from the Ministry of Health were also arrested.
Purchases of 179 respirators for nearly $ 5 million were funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). As such, two employees of the International Finance Organization were called by the police to be interrogated.
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The scandal broke out over the weekend when doctors complained that the units were not suitable for revival services in Bolivian hospitals. Information on suspicion of overcharging was then revealed.
Bolivia has registered 4,481 cases of Covid-19 including 189 deaths, according to the latest official figures. The country is still in confinement, established on March 17, and the borders are closed at least until the end of the month.