Minister of Health starts bribery probe

The Minister of Health, Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, has sent an official document to Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang, asking for an investigation into bribery allegation against health officers.

The health minister took the action after Infornet, an online newspaper under the Ministry of Information and Communications, on Wednesday reported that the United States' Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc had been charged with paying about US$7.5 million in bribes to officials in three countries.

These allegedly amounted to $4.6 million in Russia, $2.2 million in Viet Nam and more than $700,000 in Thailand.

On Tuesday, the BBC Vietnamese online also reported that Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc in Viet Nam had paid illegal commissions to intermediaries, who, then, gave a portion of their commissions to Vietnamese Government officials.

If police confirm the allegations are true, all individuals or organisations involved will be severely disciplined, Tien said.

If they say they are false, the public security department will publicise the results in the mass media to help maintain people's faith in the health sector, she said.

In a related move, the health ministry has ordered directors of health departments and central-level hospitals throughout the country to check the numbers of medical equipment provided by the Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc between January, 2005, and November, 2014.

Directors of the departments and hospitals were told to send reports to the ministry before November 15.

Yesterday, Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said at the regular press briefing that Vietnamese authorities were trying to verify information about the bribery case.

She told reporters that Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien had sent a letter to the US Deputy Ambassador in Viet Nam asking for US co-operation in clarifying the case and that the Foreign Ministry was keen to co-ordinate with authorised agencies in Viet Nam and the US if requested.


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