Details of a criminal case against an official who was acquitted by arbitration courts continue to surface in the republic. First Deputy Minister of Health of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Roman Savin has been under house arrest for several months. He is suspected of exceeding his official powers when concluding a contract for the supply of medical equipment during a pandemic. Meanwhile, the details of the criminal case raise more and more questions.
In October 2021, Roman Savin signed a contract with the Moscow-based Diomed LLC for the supply of 18 oxygen concentrators for five Yakutian hospitals. The contract value amounted to 620.9 million rubles, and the deadline for fulfilling the supplier’s obligations, including the supply, installation, commissioning of equipment and training of personnel to work with it, was set for February 15, 2022. The state contract with Diomed LLC was concluded by the Ministry of Health of Yakutia without competitive procedures, which was permissible during the period of emergency – at that time, Yakutia was on high alert due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the company, based on the totality of the proposed conditions from market participants, offered the most optimal ones in terms of guarantees and equipment supplies.
Who said “fas”?
A few weeks after the conclusion of the contract, another applicant for the role of a supplier of oxygen equipment for the Ministry of Health – Evelina LLC – files a complaint with the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Republic of Sakha.
As is known from the materials of court cases, which are in open sources, this company also sent a commercial offer to the department, and its price was lower than that of Diomed. The organization was ready to make the delivery for 588.75 million rubles. However, the Republican Ministry of Health had good reasons not to get involved with the Evelina company. The fact is that the manufacturer of oxygen equipment, the St. Petersburg company Provita, responded to a request from the ministry that it had no relationship with this enterprise and did not have information about whether it had the licenses necessary to perform such work, as well as a staff of qualified specialists.
And this is not surprising, because according to SPARK, in the state of Evelina LLC, according to the latest reports, there are officially two employees, one of whom is the general director. In addition, the equipment manufacturer expressed doubts about the feasibility of the delivery dates specified in the commercial offer of Evelina LLC.
Nevertheless, the OFAS of Yakutia enthusiastically responded to the complaint of “Evelina”. In the shortest possible time, the antimonopoly department conducted an unscheduled inspection, as a result of which it issued a decision on the violation by the Ministry of Health of the law when concluding a contract for the supply of equipment with Diomed LLC.
However, in the arbitration of the OFAS of the Republic of Sakha, the Ministry of Health suffered a crushing defeat. The legitimacy of concluding a contract with a single supplier was confirmed one after another by three instances of the arbitration court, which did not see violations of the law in the actions of the First Deputy Minister of Health of Yakutia. However, this did not save him from criminal prosecution.
Fighting competitors under the guise of fighting corruption?
There are many oddities and inconsistencies in the Roman Savin case. Let’s start with the fact that the reason for his excitement was the publication in the media.
Recall that, according to the contract, Diomed LLC undertook to deliver before February 15, 2022. Shortly before the expiration of this period – February 6 – in one of the regional publications there was a publication that the company allegedly failed to fulfill its obligations. There were also accusations of corruption against employees of the Ministry of Health of the Republic in the article.
The position of the author of the material in this case raises doubts about impartiality. Let’s omit the fact that the material is frankly one-sided, without even mentioning attempts to get comments from the other side. In the article, the journalist compares the prices for certain models of oxygen concentrators ordered for Yakut hospitals with the prices for similar equipment purchased by healthcare institutions in other regions. The author takes contracts concluded with the direct manufacturer of the equipment – Provita LLC. At the same time, out of several dozen purchases, he single-handedly selects those where the lowest prices appear. However, anyone who is not too lazy and carefully reads the information on the supply of oxygen concentrators by Provita on the public procurement website will see a lot of examples there when prices for similar models were at the level of prices offered by the supplier chosen by the Ministry of Health, or even exceeded them.
The article also quotes a deputy of the Yakut State Assembly, Mikhail Everstov, who is indignant and asks the Accounts Chamber of the republic to check where 620 million budget money has gone. Everstov’s connection with the Evelina company, which became the instigator of the proceedings with the involvement of the OFAS and other regulatory authorities, was reported by VostokMedia.
Following the first wave of information attack, the second one was not long in coming. Almost two weeks later, the same publication attacks nothing less than the republican prosecutor’s office. And here we also see the ears of Evelina LLC. According to the author of the text, the prosecutor’s office “leaked” the check at the request of the Evelina company, which, after the Ministry of Health concluded a contract with Diamed LLC, complained about the allegedly illegal actions of the department.
“The entrepreneurs attached their commercial proposal to the complaint and expressed their readiness to provide any additional explanations and submit relevant documents,” the article says.
After these two publications, the Ministry of Health of Yakutia officially announced the inspections taking place in the department.
“The press service of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) reports that law enforcement agencies are checking the Ministry of Health of Yakutia in connection with media publications on the execution of a state contract for the supply of 18 oxygen stations. The ministry provides full assistance and provides all documents,” reads a press release from the republican Ministry of Health dated February 25.
Which department carried out the check? It was the Department of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Yakutia, which eventually opened a criminal case.
Now let’s take a closer look at the dates. The first material in the media with accusations against employees of the Ministry of Health is published on February 6, the second, with criticism of the actions of the prosecutor’s office, on February 18. And on February 25, the police were already in the offices of the Ministry of Health with a check, the reason for which, according to the official report, was the publication of the press. Such agility from an extremely bureaucratic law enforcement system is usually not expected, but here they reacted almost instantly, as if they were just waiting.
Absence of the victim and calculation of damage by eye
Another oddity of the criminal case is the actual absence of the victim. The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Sakha does not consider itself a victim, openly declaring that no damage was done to the department.
In response to a lawyer’s request from a representative of Diomed LLC, the ministry said that it really had claims against the company regarding violation of the terms of the contract, however, it spoke very clearly and unequivocally about the damage caused:
“On the issue of causing any damage to the Customer, represented by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), we inform you that no damage from the actions of Diomed LLC has been established.”
Meanwhile, in media publications about the initiation of a criminal case and the detention of the first deputy minister of health of Yakutia, Roman Savin, the amount of damage caused by illegal, according to the investigation, the conclusion of a contract for the supply of oxygen concentrators appears.
“In 2021, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and a commercial organization affiliated with the suspect signed a state contract for the supply of 18 oxygen concentrators (necessary for equipping medical institutions fighting the Covid-19 coronavirus infection) for a total amount of over 620 million rubles. At the same time, the cost of equipment turned out to be overstated by more than 150 million rubles, ”the departmental information portal reported in September last year.
Let’s omit the loud, but at least controversial, in our opinion, statement about affiliation and take a closer look at the figure of 150 million rubles. Where she came from is not known for certain. However, it is doubtful that this value will be confirmed in court by any examinations.
Recall that the Evelina company, the initiator of complaints to the OFAS and the prosecutor’s office, itself participated in the competition for commercial proposals and gave the Ministry of Health a price for the supply of similar equipment 32 million lower than Diomed LLC. It turns out that this company, which is so happy for competitive bidding, presented prices higher than those established by investigators by more than 100 million rubles?
Later, the following plot was fixed in reports about this case: allegedly, the Ministry of Health of Yakutia could conclude a contract directly with the manufacturer of oxygen stations, the Provita company, and thereby save 150 million rubles. At the same time, it is known that Provita specialists participated in the process of supplying concentrators to Yakutia at each of its stages, and, therefore, the manufacturer was aware of the public procurement, but it was not disputed on his part. Provita did not directly submit a commercial offer to the Ministry of Health of Yakutia. Probably because the manufacturer during the period of peak demand was focused on the manufacture of equipment and was not interested in diverting resources to complex organizational processes related to public procurement and logistics.
This version is confirmed by market participants. Manufacturers of medical equipment do prefer to sell through a distribution network. The share of direct deliveries to the final consumer is usually no more than 20 percent. Indeed, the analysis of data from the public procurement website shows that Provita LLC more often concluded contracts for service maintenance and the supply of components than for the supply of equipment. By the way, among those cases when manufacturers nevertheless acted as a direct supplier, there are quite a few cases where companies had to pay a penalty for failure to meet delivery deadlines. Which, however, is not surprising, given the rush demand for oxygen equipment during the pandemic, as well as disrupted supply chains. In particular, many imported components are used for the production of Provita oxygen concentrators, with the supply of which during the period of quarantine restrictions there were serious difficulties.
If we take as a starting point the very publication in the media that the law enforcement agencies were excited about, then, in particular, the following example is given there:
“So, on August 23, 2021, a contract was signed between the Republican Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital (Buryatia) and JSC Four Elements for the supply of an oxygen concentrator Provita-1000 (in a block container) at a price of 27.9 million rubles apiece . At the same time, the cost of one Provita-1000 oxygen concentrator (in a block container) under a contract with Diomed LLC amounted to 40.1 million rubles (a total of 12 units were purchased for 481 million rubles).”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health of Yakutia has a letter from Provita LLC, which states that the company does not have a unified pricing policy for the end user, since the price varies depending on the specification, delivery costs, installation work, the duration of warranty periods, the presence or absence of service and other conditions of each specific contract. This letter, in particular, became one of the arguments in the arbitration process and helped the ministry to defend its case in the dispute against OFAS.
For example, the same concentrators of the Provita-1000 model, which are discussed in the article, differ from each other in the models of compressors that are installed in them. A compressor with a pressure of 5 atmospheres is used as standard. However, as it turned out already in the process of fulfilling the contract, this capacity is not enough for the normal functioning of the oxygen supply system in one of the hospitals. In this connection, at the request of the end customer, changes had to be made to the design of the stations, on which an additional agreement was concluded. In particular, it was necessary to replace compressors of 5 atmospheres with more powerful ones, as well as reconfigure the components for connecting the power supply. 8 Provita-1000 oxygen stations underwent such modernization, which led to their rise in production costs.
It is also quite obvious that an attempt to compare the regions of Russia with each other in terms of pricing is a path on thin ice. Especially when it comes to the north-east of the country. There are almost 9,000 kilometers of highways between St. Petersburg, where oxygen concentrators are produced, and Yakutsk. Remoteness from the federal center, extreme climatic conditions, huge distances between settlements, underdeveloped transport infrastructure make this region one of the most difficult in the country in terms of logistics and significantly increase the price of any imported goods for the end consumer due to the transport component.
Fulfilled in full
The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Sakha confirms that contract No. 29102021/1 dated 10/29/2021 has been fully executed. Thus, the healthcare system of Yakutia has overcome its dependence on imported liquid medical oxygen, for which the republican budget annually spent up to 500 million rubles.
“Thanks to the installation of oxygen stations, it became possible to have constant access to humidified oxygen for patients in general resuscitation, the primary vascular department, and obstetric services. Also in our oxygen stations, cylinders for ambulances and air ambulances are filled with medical oxygen. Previously, cylinders for refueling were sent to the city of Yakutsk, 1,200 kilometers from the city of Mirny. With the installation of an oxygen station, the provision of medical care has reached a qualitatively new level,” the Mirny Central District Hospital notes.
During the pandemic, when providing medical care to patients with a new coronavirus infection in the hospital, the percentage of speedy recovery of patients with a new coronavirus infection, as well as discharges of patients without complications, increased.
At the same time, the Yakut case demonstrated the need for systematic preparation for the implementation of such projects and strict fulfillment of mutual obligations by both parties – both the supplier and the customer, whose responsibility is the technical readiness of sites for the installation of equipment.