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Bolivian health minister arrested over corrupt purchase of overpriced ventilators

BOLIVIAN health minister Marcelo Navajas was arrested on Wednesday in connection with a corruption scandal involving the purchase of overpriced ventilators.

Mr Navajas was sacked and replaced by his deputy, Eidy Roca, who had previously been responsible for mapping the coronavirus pandemic.

Police chief Ivan Rojas confirmed the arrest following investigations into a $5 million (£4m) bill for just 179 ventilators bought from a manufacturer in Spain — a cost of $27,683 (£22,640) each. 

The deal was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (BID) which on Wednesday expressed “concern” over irregularities in the transaction.

The director of Health Ministry was also arrested, along with staff from the Agency for Health Infrastructure and Medical Equipment.

President Jeanine Anez, who came to power after a Washington-backed coup in December, announced the purchase of the ventilators last week.

But on Wednesday night she was less enthusiastic, pledging to return every penny to Bolivians.

“I will continue to work to equip our hospitals with transparency,” Ms Anez said.

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