Romanian health minister fires ex-health minister accused of taking bribes as hospital manager


Romania’s health minister has fired a former health minister who’s has been accused of bribe-taking, two days after she announced she wanted to remain manager of a hospital in northwestern Romania despite the probe.  

Sorina Pintea, manager of the Baia Mare Emergency Hospital, was detained on February 29 after a sting operation. Prosecutors allegedly caught her as she took 120,000 lei in her office.

Pintea, who has denied wrongdoing, resigned her post on March 5, but a month later said she had had a change of mind and intended to keep her old job.

On Friday, Health Minister Nelu Tataru fired Pintea, and named a local counselor to be acting manager of the hospital. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban asked the minister to dismiss her after reports that local authorities would reinstate her to her old job.

Anti-corruption prosecutors said Pintea is suspected of taking bribes of 10,000 euros and 120,000 lei (25,000 euros) in two installments from an intermediary from December 2019-February 2020.

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

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.

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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