Colombia’s National Police are investigating whether there are links between corrupt health insurance companies and criminal gangs, as part of wider investigations into the health sector scandal, Spanish news agency EFE reported Friday.
Police Chief General Oscar Naranjo revealed that “We are moving to test the conduct of individuals, officials and former [health] officials, who may have contacts with the criminal gangs,” although he did not divulge further details.
He did recall, however, how in 2006 it was “proven” that the paramilitaries, whose actions have largely been copied and continued by the current criminal organizations, “had corrupted and hijacked the administration of health systems on Colombia’s northern coast.”
The health sector scandal erupted towards the end of April, with initial investigations revealing a loss of some $17 million (COP33 billion) to corruption, with subsequent estimates reaching as high as $2.5 billion (COP4.5 trillion).
Numerous health insurance companies are being investigated, among other charges, for denying basic health services to Colombians, which ought to be granted as part of the national health plan (POS) that every employed citizen contributes to.
Several people have already been arrested, while the nation’s largest health insurance company, Saludcoop, was recently seized by the government due to troubled flow of capital and non-payment of debts.