Ex-health fund official arrested over swine flu vaccines

BELGRADE -- Police on Monday arrested the former director-general of the Republic Institute for Health Insurance (RZZO) and another two persons.

Svetlana Vukajlović (file)
Svetlana Vukajlović (file)

Svetlana Vukajlović is suspected of abuse of office in the process of procurement of vaccines against the H1N1 virus, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dačić has stated.

Dačić told Tanjug Monday that directors of the Jugohemija and Detap companies, Vladimir Gravar and Ljubomir Pavličević were also arrested.

The arrest was made by the members of the Department for the Fight against Organized Crime, in cooperation with the Prosecution for Organized Crime, said Dačić.

He stressed that further course of the investigation will determine whether there are more suspects in this case.

After resigning as RZZO director general, Vukajlović joined a private clinic. In early August 2011, she was questioned on suspicion of abuse of office in the process of procurement of Novartis vaccines. Another official questioned at the time was former Health Minister Tomica Milosavljević.

Vukajlović was arrested on Monday as she returned to the country from her vacation.

In 2009, Serbian officials originally ordered 3 million units of the vaccine from Swiss company Novartis, via Jugohemija.

It is now suspected that by eventually buying857,000 units at RSD 799 per unit - only 154,000 were used - Serbia's budget lost EUR 1.6mn.

The investigation is focusing on finding out whether there were abuses in the process of selecting the vaccine producer, considering that the vaccine was available from a British company at RSD 200 less per unit. The

The contract with Novartis was terminated by the government in early 2010.

In a statement for B92, Tomica Milosavljević said that he "had no role whatsoever" in the tender procedure set up to buy the vaccines.