Mexican president vows to swiftly probe pharmaceutical giant scandal

13:26, November 11, 2010      

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon promised Wednesday to swiftly investigate a scandal involving state-run Social Security Institute (IMSS) and pharmaceutical giant Novartis.

"I have given instructions to investigate any possible corruption in the IMSS and to punish whoever is found responsible," Calderon said in a brief message published on the internet.

The president is currently in the South Korean capital Seoul to participate in the Group of 20 Summit.

His message was a response to a recording widely broadcast late on Tuesday.

The recording appears to have the laboratory director of Novartis, Rafael Castro, seeking inside information on IMSS bidding processes from Cesar Mora, the IMSS director of sales.

Following Calderon's instructions, the Public Duties Ministry (SFP) ordered Mora's suspension, saying that it was a precautionary measure that would also facilitate the investigation, the ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

The SFP said it will investigate contracts at the IMSS and the Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (Cofepris), seeking specific evidence to see whether the bidding processes are tailored to benefit particular private bidders.

The SFP will also begin to audit the assets of public servants in the IMSS procurement department, the statement said.

Mexico has been actively pursuing corruption this year under the guidance of a revamped SFP, which now functions as an investigator and prosecutor rather than just being an auditor of paperwork.

Source: Xinhua


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