Bolivian health minister Marcelo Navajas has been arrested, the Bolivian police chief said on Wednesday. He is suspected of corruption, after the purchase at an overvalued rate of 179 respirators dedicated to patients of the Covid-19.
Bolivian Minister of Health Marcelo Navajas, suspected of corruption during the purchase of 179 respirators for the sick from Covid-19 from a Spanish company, was arrested on Wednesday, May 20, the Bolivian police chief said.
“He is detained on the premises of the Special Crime Prevention Force (FELCC) in La Paz” said the commander of this unit, Colonel Ivan Rojas, one day after Bolivian President Jeanine Añez ordered the opening of an investigation for “possible corruption” concerning this purchase.
Bolivia bought the medical equipment from a Spanish company for a unit price of $ 27,683. However, the company offered them at a price varying between 9,500 and 11,000 euros (between 10,312 and 11,941 dollars).
Two other officials from the Ministry of Health were also arrested.
The purchase of the 179 respirators for nearly five million dollars was financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In this capacity, two employees of the international financial organization were summoned by the police to be questioned.
The scandal erupted over the weekend when doctors complained that the devices were not suitable for resuscitation services in Bolivian hospitals. Information about suspicions of overcharging then began to be disclosed.
Bolivia has recorded 4,481 cases of Covid-19 including 189 deaths, according to the latest official figures. The country is still in containment, established on March 17, and the borders are closed at least until the end of the month.