Tuesday 27 September 2016

'No evidence to warrant charges' in bribery probe

Published 05/12/2015 | 02:30

In a briefing prepared for the Dáil’s spending watchdog, the HSE said gardaí had 'not received any specific evidence to enable them to commence a prosecution'
In a briefing prepared for the Dáil’s spending watchdog, the HSE said gardaí had 'not received any specific evidence to enable them to commence a prosecution'

Gardaí have found no evidence to date to warrant prosecutions as part of their investigation into claims hospital staff were bribed by a medical supplies firm.

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The probe, much of which is focused on allegations a firm called Eurosurgical Ltd offered gifts in return for contracts and commercially sensitive information, has been ongoing for over a year.

In a briefing prepared for the Dáil's spending watchdog, the HSE said gardaí had "not received any specific evidence to enable them to commence a prosecution".

However, officials said the HSE was conducting its own investigation into certain transactions it had with the company.

Eurosurgical has denied acting inappropriately.

Three employees, two from the publicly-funded St Vincent's University Hospital and one at the private Beacon Hospital, were put on paid leave after allegations were outlined in an RTÉ 'Primetime' programme last July.

The HSE told the Public Accounts Committee that an initial batch of whistleblower allegations, involving staff at the Bon Secours Glasnevin, St Vincent's Private Hospital, St Columcille's, Tallaght and Mullingar hospitals, was made to gardaí in June 2014.

Internal audits on the three HSE hospitals at the centre of the allegations, St Columcille's, Mullingar and Tullamore, identified deficiencies in the purchasing controls, but no evidence of wrongdoing.

"It should be stated that collusion between supplier and purchaser, as alleged in this case, is very difficult to detect by management, internal audit and external audit," the PAC was told.

After the RTÉ programme brought further allegations to light, the HSE met with gardaí.

They also commissioned an independent review by Deloitte of a sample of HSE transactions with Eurosurgical.

"Deloitte's report identified some price and VAT variations which are not necessarily incorrect but in the current circumstances warrant further investigation," the briefing document stated.

It said the HSE had undertaken to keep gardaí informed of its enquiries.

Irish Independent

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