Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Romanian health care tycoon falls to death

By Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania — A Romanian tycoon whose pharmacy chain is at the center of a corruption investigation died Tuesday after falling from his house, a medical clinic said.

The Polisano clinic said 58-year-old Ilie Vonica, one of Romania’s richest men, died in his hometown of Sibiu. A police spokeswoman said authorities were investigating the cause.

News agencies cited investigators as saying Vonica killed himself and left a five-page letter explaining his decision to end his life, which he said was connected to the probe.

Vonica’s Reteta pharmacy chain is at the center of a corruption probe involving 1,100 fake prescriptions issued between 2008 and 2010. Prosecutors say the scam cost the state 3.5 million euros.

Nine people including doctors and Vonica’s wife Ioana, who ran the chain, were arrested last month. They are being investigated on charges of illegally receiving money from the national insurance agency over bogus cancer-drug prescriptions. A court rejected the wife’s appeal to be freed from arrest on Monday.

Vonica, a doctor who specialized as a gynecologist, began his health care business with his wife in 1993 after the anti-communist revolution, when private health care took off. It now employs 2,000 people.

Reports say Vonica was worth 95 million euros last year.

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