Former Romanian health minister to stand trial on bribe charges

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

A former health minister was formally charged on Thursday with taking bribes worth 35,000 euros in exchange for awarding a contract.

The Anti-Corruption Directorate said Sorina Pintea will stand trial on charges she took kickbacks on two occasions of 10,000 euros and 120,000 lei (25,000 euros) when she was manager of the Baia Mare Emergency Hospital in northwest Romania.

They said she took the illicit cash between November 2019 and February 28, 2020 in exchange for awarding a contract to a local businessman.

The kickback represented 7% of the value of a contract for renovating a cardiovascular unit at the hospital, prosecutors said in a statement. She denies wrongdoing.

Pintea was detained on February 29 after a sting operation. Prosecutors allegedly caught her as she took 120,000 lei in her office.

Amid reports that she suffered from ill health, Pintea was released from detention after a week and restrictions were placed on her movements during the probe.

She resigned her post in March, but a month later said she had had a change of heart and intended to keep her old job. Health Minister Nelu Tataru then fired her on April 10.

Pintea, a Social Democrat, was health minister from January 2018 to October 2019.

Last year, she was accused of intimidating a non-governmental organization that raised 26 million euros for a pediatric cancer hospital. She said the funds that were raised over four years should be handed to the state.

When she was minister, Pintea sent a team of undercover detectives to Romanian hospitals last year to check out whether medics and nurses are demanding or accepting bribes.


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