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Court upholds custody ruling for Medical Insurance Fund execs

The Moscow City Court has upheld an order by a lower court that three former managers of the Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund be taken into custody, a court source said Monday.

On November 17, a Moscow borough court sanctioned the arrests of Andrei Taranov, the former director of Russia's compulsory health insurance fund, and another six top managers, on suspicion of corruption and bribery.

Searches were conducted and documents seized in a police raid on the insurance fund's central office in Moscow and eight of its regional offices, as well as on the headquarters of partner firms and companies involved in a state-run program to provide free or subsidized medication to low-income population groups.

The Prosecutor General's Office said evidence indicated that the Federal Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund officials received bribes from the heads of regional branches of the fund and representatives of pharmaceutical and other commercial companies involved in distributing medication and medical equipment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov to assist an investigation into the high-profile health insurance fraud and to monitor the use of budget funds.

Some 600 bribery and embezzlement cases have been opened in Russia since July, when Putin, who has set the fight against corruption as a national priority, ordered the new prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, to draw up an anti-corruption strategy.

First Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman said in a newspaper interview in November that annual corruption in Russia had reached $240 billion, a sum almost equal to the federal budget.


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