Sedena awards a contract for more than a billion pesos to a company linked to the Blood Cartel 

269

The Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) delivered a contract for 1,248.2 million pesos to the company Centrum Promotora Internacional, which was sanctioned for belonging to the Blood Cartel, a group that was investigated due to monopolistic practices in tenders for services from laboratories and blood banks to public health institutions. 

The contract that the department awarded to this firm through bidding is for the supply of inputs, reagents and materials for 50 clinical laboratories of the Sedena from next September 1 and until June 30, 2025, that is, it is a trans-year agreement. 

The tender organized by Sedena had the participation of eight firms from the field of clinical laboratories, where Centrum won, together with the company Disimed, two batches that included more than 1,500 products to be delivered in the reference period, such as analytical reagents, plastic material for use in laboratories and thermosensitive paper, among others. 

Of the eight firms, Centrum was identified as a member of the Blood Cartel, which was investigated by the Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece) for colluding to set prices and distribute service contracts in the health sector. 

In August of last year, the Ministry of Public Function (SFP) published five circulars in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) in which it instructed federal agencies, state companies and local governments to refrain from accepting proposals or signing contracts with the companies Valtrum, Impromed, Instrumentos y Equipos Falcón, Med Prime and Centrum Promotora Internacional, which are part of said group. 

In addition, Centrum was part of an investigation initiated by Cofece in 2016 into a group of 15 colluding competitors to obtain million-dollar contracts in tenders from the National Health System. 

The disqualification imposed by the SFP on these companies to participate in public contracts for these companies was established for seven years, based on the provisions of the Federal Anti-Corruption Law in Public Contracts. 

In addition, in July of this year, the head of the SFP, Roberto Salcedo Aquino, reported that 19 companies that provide clinical laboratory and blood bank services to the health sector engaged in acts of corruption, which has led to 23 investigations and eight disqualifications and fines. 

Despite this, the Sedena decided to award the million-dollar contract to the company after a technical and economic evaluation. 

The Army is not the only federal instance that has maintained a commercial relationship with this company, despite the sanctions it has been subject to. 

Is a client of IMSS and ISSSTE 

According to information from Compranet, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) signed eight contracts this year with Centrum Promotora Internacional for laboratory services and tests for close to 29 million pesos, half of them through direct award. 

Meanwhile, the Institute of Security and Social Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) awarded a contract for more than one hundred million to the company for the service of minimal surgeries between August and December. ISSSTE had already handed out million-dollar contracts to companies of the Blood Cartel sanctioned by the 4T administration. 

As reporte before by several media outlets, the public body awarded a contract of up to two thousand 315 million pesos to Dicipa and Instrumentos y Equipos Falcón under the criteria of “exception”. 

The health institution justified the fact “in which the transition is made between the companies that could provide the services, which will replace the disabled providers.” 

According to Cofece, the Blood Cartel caused damage of just over 1.2 billion pesos to the treasury due to these practices detected in the administrations of former presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, for ISSSTE and IMSS, mainly. 

 Source: El Sol de Mexico