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Romanian State-Run Company Boss Faces Graft Charges Over Coronavirus Mask Deal

Adrian Ionel is the director-general of a firm responsible for procuring equipment and drugs for Romania’s public health-care facilities. (file photo)

Romanian prosecutors have charged the head of a Romanian state-owned company with corruption over a contract to acquire medical equipment aimed at fighting the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) said in a statement on June 23 that Adrian Ionel demanded a 760,000-euro ($860,000) bribe to help a company secure the contract for three million surgical masks and 250,000 medical gowns.

Ionel is the director-general of Unifarm, a firm responsible for procuring equipment and drugs for Romania’s public health-care facilities.

The suspect, who claimed his innocence, was placed under judicial control for 60 days, during which he was banned from leaving Bucharest and from performing his role at Unifarm.

He faces charges including abuse of office, bribe taking, and complicity in trafficking influence after the DNA said he struck a deal in a meeting in a Bucharest restaurant with a middleman for the private company that was awarded the contract in March.

The prosecutors alleged that only one million masks were delivered. And even those were not surgical masks, as stipulated in the contract, but protective masks that did not meet safety standards.

Prosecutors added that, after the shipment, Ionel cancelled the contract when the bribe he demanded was not forthcoming.

Romania's health-care system has long suffered from corruption and under-investment.

Over the past few months, medical staff have complained of a shortage of equipment in the EU member state and some of them have resigned in protest.

Romania has so far reported more than 24,500 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 1,500 deaths.

With reporting by AFP
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