Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested a former mayor of Makhachkala on Friday evening, as he attempted to board a flight bound for Germany. The Investigation Department of Daghestan told OC Media on Saturday that Magomed Suleymanov, director of Daghestan’s Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund, was suspected of leading a ‘criminal community’, fraud, and theft of more than ₽210 million ($3.1 million).
Makhachkala’s Sovietsky District Court remanded Suleymanov, a former MP in Daghestan’s parliament, in custody for 10 days on Friday, to be automatically extended for 2 months if he is charged.
A spokesperson for the Investigative Department of Daghestan told OC Media that from 2010–2018, Suleymanov and his associates at the medical fund received more than ₽210 million ($3.1 million) through affiliated insurance companies, private clinics, and state medical institutions.
The spokesperson said that as part of a fraudulent scheme, medical providers presented insurance companies with counterfeit documents for medical services they had not carried out, based on which funds from the state medical insurance fund were transferred to them.
According to the spokesperson, the records of 622 patients, some of whom were dead and some who were allegedly in Syria fighting in the civil war, were sent to the Max M and VTB insurance companies as well as the Insurance Fund. Medical services were then provided for them, according to the records, in private clinics in Makhachkala and Derbent and district clinics, city hospitals, and health centres throughout Daghestan.
According to the Insurance Fund, there were 209 medical providers in Daghestan’s compulsory medical insurance scheme in 2016, 72 of which were private. The programme’s annual budget was ₽29 billion in 2017 ($430 million).
According to the investigation, a criminal case was opened against Suleymanov on the basis of materials gathered by the Prosecutor’s Office, FSB, and local police. They are now attempting to identify the remaining members of the criminal community and other possible violations of the law.
Suleymanov’s former deputy, Gasbulla Barkayev, is now the director of the local branch of VTB Medical Insurance.
‘On sick leave’
Daghestani daily Chernovik cited sources close to local law enforcement as saying that the investigation into Suleymanov began more than a month ago. Suleymanov reportedly tried to track the case’s progress through his own channels, but was persuaded that he was not being investigated.
In the first two weeks of July, Suleymanov was absent from work at the Insurance fund, leading to media reports that he had fled to the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, the fund was screened by colleagues from the federal office.
A few days later, Suleymanov refuted this online, insisting he ‘did not run away anywhere, but was all this time in Makhachkala, on sick leave’.
In court on Sunday, Suleymanov said that he was flying to Moscow, where he had been invited to a meet the Federal office of the compulsory medical insurance programme, and had planned to fly to Germany on 23 August for medical treatment.
Daghestan’s Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund was embroiled in another corruption scandal in July, after the republic’s former health minister, Tanka Ibragimov, and his son-in-law Nurmagomed Alkhasov, were accused of artificially inflating prices for state purchases. Alkhasov’s company, Regionfarma, won medical contracts worth ₽320 million ($4.8 million) from the fund.