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Disinfection by the cartel?

Purchases of funds for Khabarovsk hospitals are investigated for price collusion

Last week, a case of possible collusion of the Khabarovsk Territory authorities and economic entities in organizing the procurement of disinfectants for health care institutions in the region was developed - in the summer about this, we recall, even a criminal case was opened on abuse of authority (Article 285 of the RF Criminal Code) Regional Health Ministry Alexander Vicko, what reported in detail EastRussia, but the investigators are still trying to justify the legality of the prosecution of the minister in the courts, and the official himself, having gone on leave, is neither a suspect nor an accused. The regional OFAS, meanwhile, approached the story from the other side: the antimonopoly authority considered that the disputed auctions had been conducted using the technology of the cartel agreement - a criminal case has been initiated and will be investigated for this as yet, but not yet a criminal case.

Disinfection by the cartel?

Khabarovsk OFAS filed a case for violation of Art. 11 of the Federal Law on the protection of competition in the procurement of disinfectants for the needs of healthcare institutions in the Khabarovsk Territory. This was reported to EastRussia by Larisa Ilchenko, a leading expert-expert of the antimonopoly control department of the Federal Antimonopoly Service. The investigation into the circumstances of the purchase of disinfectants for regional and municipal healthcare institutions, we recall, began this spring. The regional department of the FAS came to the conclusion that a representative of one of the Russian manufacturers of disinfectants, NPO Novodez, acting together with officials of the Ministry of Health of the Khabarovsk Territory and Regional Clinical Hospital No. 1, "coordinated the auction of disinfectants for the needs of 11 medical institutions" - with the aim of winning the Pure Planet LLC. The Antimonopoly Office considered this a violation of Art. 16 of the Law on Protection of Competition - conspiracy between the authorities and business entities. The proceedings are still pending. However, in parallel, representatives of the supervisory structure found in the inspection materials signs of another violation - the conclusion of an agreement aimed at maintaining the price at the auction (clause 2 of part 1 of article 11 of the law on the protection of competition).

The auction for the supply of disinfectants for 11 health care facilities, recalls Larisa Ilchenko, was held on 24 on October 2016 of the year. “Following the investigation of the Khabarovsk OFAS, it was established that Clean Planet LLC, World Without Infections LLC and Sphere LLC in the course of participation in auctions implemented a unified strategy of behavior. If only two parties to the agreement were allowed to participate, the auctions ended with a minimum decrease in the initial maximum price - no more than 1%, which was achieved by the bidders submitting one price offer. In the event that bids from other economic entities that are not part of the cartel were allowed to participate in the auction collusion with these subjects, one of the parties to the agreement participated in the auction and reduced the price, and the second - if available - did not submit price offers. At the same time, the price reduction sometimes reached more than 70% ", - said the representative of FAS. 

Cartel collusion is a mechanism that involves building a common line of behavior at tenders between often not formally unrelated companies: they may have different founders, places of registration, and even activities. Only by a similar strategy of behavior at auctions and some other indirect signs can you establish that companies are bound by a common goal - maintaining the highest possible auction price. And this, of course, contradicts common sense and the law on protection of competition. The Khabarovsk case was initiated against three LLCs. In case of recognition of the fact of violations, firms face punishment under part 2 art. 14.32 CoAP - a fine in the amount of 1 / 10 to 1 / 2 from the initial value of the subject of the auction for each particular auction. "If the investigation reveals that the actions of companies caused major damage to the state or extracted a large amount of income, the materials of our case will be forwarded to law enforcement agencies to decide on the initiation of the case under Article 178 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation," the UFAS emphasizes.

The management department also noted that such a case - the first in the territory of Russia, and the authority to investigate it transferred to the regional administration of the central office of the FAS. In the comments of the head of the FAS Elena Kloster, posted on Friday on the site OFASIt is noted that the antimonopoly authorities "constantly pay attention and monitor public procurement in the medical sphere." "Every year, the FAS establishes the fact of increasing the number of cartels and anti-competitive agreements in all sectors of the economy. Throughout the country, the territorial bodies of the FAS deal with major cases of cartels. As for medicine, cartels to support prices for public procurement of medicines and medical products are fixed in 80 subjects of the Russian Federation. In 2017, one of the priority tasks facing the service is the decartelization of construction, the procurement of medicines and medical devices, and the delivery of computer real technology, "said Ms. Kloster.


Officials of the regional Ministry of Health in the proceedings on the grounds of violation of Art. 11 of the Law on Protection of Competition, initiated by the Khabarovsk OFAS, do not appear. However, the very fact of overstating prices, which eventually resulted in contracts for disinfecting funds for healthcare institutions, if it is proved, quite "lies" in the logic of the criminal case against Minister Alexander Vitko, who was first instigated, and now trying to "reanimate" through courts in the UFSB. 

Recall, "chekists", justifying the damage allegedly caused by the actions of the authorities and representatives of the NGO Novodez, refer to the expertise of the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Economic Security and Countering Corruption of the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs. There at the beginning of June 2017 year issued a conclusion that the purchase was allegedly overvalued compared to the average market prices, assessing the damage to 11 healthcare facilities of the region in the amount of just over 3 million rubles. 

However, this very point in the reasoning of the investigation - about the overstatement of prices - was later recognized as weak by the prosecutor's office, which canceled the decision to initiate proceedings against Aleksandr Vitko. The position of the supervisory authority, we recall, is based on the fact that there was no motive or guilt in the actions of Alexander Vitko. In particular, out of personal interest in helping the representative of the NGO "Novodez", Mr. Vitko had only "a desire to curry favor with the governor of the Khabarovsk Territory and show himself as an effective leader", that is, to attract an investor to the region - the very NGO "Novodez". In addition, the prosecutor’s office considered, “A. V. Vitko’s involvement in the formation of the inflated price has not been confirmed, and the exact amount of the damage caused has not been established.”

Meanwhile, an additional argument in the form of a decision of the Federal Antimonopoly Service to inflate prices at the auction would obviously not hinder the investigation. Indeed, during this time, the task of attracting a manufacturer of disinfectants to the region, which was set for Mr. Vitko by his head, has formally been achieved: in September, Profidez-DV LLC solemnly opened a mixing and packaging workshop in the Khabarovsk advanced development area. So far, of course, this is not a full-fledged production facility at all - drugs are not made on it, but only transfused, and the issue of placing a real chemical production on the territory where it is planned to build food industry facilities in the future is on the verge of fantasy. But the investor, assured by the regional government, promises to launch the production of modern disinfecting, sterilizing and antiseptic preparations, for which he will invest 120 million rubles of his own funds in the project over the next five years. 

In the opening ceremony of the workshop, as reported regional authoritiesVice-Speaker of the State Duma Irina Yarovaya, Minister for Development of the Far East Alexander Galushka, Governor Vyacheslav Shport and Mayor of Khabarovsk Alexander Sokolov took part. "Until now, we did not have our own production of disinfectants, but the need for such products is high, first of all, the requests of local consumers - health care institutions, social services, education, public catering enterprises, housing and communal services - will be provided, while the cost of" Profidez- DV "will save millions of rubles.The next stage will be the release of this line to the markets of the Asia-Pacific Region," Mr. Shport said. 
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