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COVID corruption exposed

30 September 20200 comments

More than a $US1 billion dollars in spending on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic – much of it in countries hosting large numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons – has been called into question over corruption and malfeasance claims.

A study by Transparency International, a global anti-corruption advocacy group, found 19 separate cases of alleged corruption across the globe amounting to $US1.1 billion.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has seen vast sums of much needed resources disbursed to mitigate the health, economic, and social impact of the virus,” the report says.

“Wisely used, these resources provide an opportunity for countries to not only prevent more deaths and protect livelihoods, but to strengthen healthcare systems, protect jobs and boost economic recovery. However, this will only be the case if they are not subject to corruption and malfeasance,” it says.

“To put this into perspective, this would be enough to purchase 50 000 ventilators.1 While there is still a long way to go before the pandemic is drawn to a close, one thing is clear: taking stock of corruption risks before major disbursements of funding can save lives,” the report says.

Among the cases listed in the report is a scandal in the Philippines in which $US288.7 million was spent by the Health Insurance Corporation amid allegations of fund mismanagement and overpricing. The Philippines Senate has produced a report recommending charges against senior official

In Mexico, the son of a senior government official was awarded a government contract worth $US1.3 million to provide 20 ventilators – costing US $65,000 each – 85 per cent more expensive than ventilators previously acquired by the government.

In Italy, state contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) were awarded to two Italian businessmen accused of fraud, worth $US71, 982,300.

In Bolivia, the Health Minister Marcelo Navajas was arrested over the purchase of 170 ventilators from Spain, at an overinflated price of $US27, 683 each. In an audit of the purchase, the Inter-American Development Bank found that the devices, when purchased on the market, should cost only a quarter of what was paid.

In Uzbekistan, the Anti-corruption Agency announced in August it had discovered more than $US171, 000 embezzled by employees with the sanitary-epidemiological service since the start of the pandemic, a department within the health ministry.

In the UK, around 50 million masks purchased as part of a $US326 million contract will not be used by the NHS due to fears of defects. Investigators found provider Ayanda Capital owned through a tax haven in Mauritius is allegedly linked to a prominent member of the Conservative Party.

See the full report here: