Romania: Hewlett Packard vows to probe suspected wrongdoing

BUCHAREST, Romania – Tech giant Hewlett Packard said Tuesday it would investigate allegations of wrongdoing in a health services contract in Romania which prosecutors say cost the East European country 16.8 million euros ($18.8 million).

Romania’s national health service agreed to pay 760-800 euros ($850-$895) per person per day for Hewlett Packard Romania’s services, but prosecutors say HP then subcontracted the work, paying only 200 euros ($224) a day.

Livia Sapalcan, a spokeswoman for the anti-corruption prosecutors’ office, told The Associated Press that in some instances, a daily fee of just euros 70 ($78) was paid. HP was informed about the allegations of wrongdoing on April 22, the office said.

In a statement sent to The Associated Press, Hewlett Packard said it is “committed to the highest standards of business conduct and our employees are expected to adhere to these standards.”

Prosecutors said Monday that nine Romanian health chiefs are being probed about amendments they signed in 2007-2009 to an existing contract with the company for updating the institution’s software. They say that the additional services were awarded to HP without respecting public acquisition procedures.

The nine, who include two former national health service chiefs, are accused of abusing their positions, referring to the fact that they agreed to pay a fee that was much higher than the market rate. They are not specifically accused of taking bribes.

HP said the company took “all allegations seriously and conducts thorough investigations into any claims.”

Romania’s underfunded health care service is plagued with informal payments and bribery. Every year, thousands of doctors and medical staff leave Romania to work abroad.