BTA: Health Minister Resigns


Health Minister Nikolai Petrov tendered his resignation and it was accepted by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the government's press service reported on Monday.

The news comes a day after bTV cited a Defence Ministry audit at the Military Medical Academy (MMA) which found that during Petrov's stint as MMA director there were "weaknesses and wrongdoings" in that medical establishment in the process of awarding public procurement contracts.

The audit found that in January 2015, when the MMA was headed by Petrov, a 1.2 million leva public procurement contract for the supply of osteosynthesis products, prosthetic systems and arthroscopic consumables to the MMA was awarded to a consortium dominated by Orthopedie-BG, a company owned by a man whose son was in a relationship with Petrov's daughter Rouslana Petrova and had a child from that relationship.

Rouslana held a high office at the Health Ministry before her father became minister in May 2017. She was chief of cabinet for the then health minister Peter Moskov. In 2015, the supply order under the above-mentioned 1.2 million leva contract was sent to a company whose address coincided with that of Rouslana's business before she took the job at the Health Ministry.

"We believe that in this case there are indications of connected persons and possibly a conflict of interest, which should be investigated by the competent authorities," the Defence Ministry auditors said in one of their conclusions.

The auditors found that Orthopedie-BG did not have BULSTAT registration for this particular procedure, which implies a violation of the law.

In a written answer to bTV, Petrov said the only criterion for selecting the contractor was the price offered during the bidding procedure.

While Petrov was MMA director, Orthopedie-BG also won another public procurement contract. It was a 429,300 leva deal for the supply of medical products.

The audit was conducted under the caretaker government of Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdjikov and ended in March 2017, when Petrov was not yet minister of health. On June 7, 2017, a month after Petrov headed the Health Ministry, the military prosecution service refused to open pretrial proceedings in connection with the audit at the MMA.

On Monday, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said Petrov's resignation as Health Minister was "a moral act". "We will get familiarized with the conclusions in the audit report to see if it points to any legal offences," Goranov said.

Source: BTA

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