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Arrested Russian health insurance fund chief was facing dismissal -1

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MOSCOW, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - The head of a government health insurance fund, arrested on suspicion of corruption and bribery, was already facing dismissal, the Russian health minister said Friday.

A court ordered the arrest of Andrei Taranov, the director of the Federal Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund (FOMS) earlier in the day.

Mikhail Zurabov said, "Some changes in the management of the fund had been made, and documents on the dismissal of Taranov from his post were being prepared. We had planned to announce his dismissal in the near future."

The Moscow district court issued two-month arrest warrants for Taranov and three of his deputies, as well as for three department heads, after a probe revealed evidence of "financial irregularities."

Dmitry Reihard, currently the acting head of the fund and a former head of department at the Ministry of Health and Social Development, has been appointed as the fund's first deputy head, the health minister said.

Zurabov said that this year the fund's work was inspected by the Audit Chamber, as well as the Prosecutor General's Office.

The Prosecutor General's Office said earlier Friday in a web posting, "Evidence uncovered in the course of an investigation into the criminal case indicates that the FOMS officials received bribes from the heads of regional branches of the fund and representatives of pharmaceutical and other commercial companies involved in distributing medications and medical equipment."

Kommersant, a leading Russian business daily, said Friday that Taranov, along with his deputy Dmitry Usenko, had been detained on suspicion of bribery and misuse of government allocations.

Earlier in the week, searches were conducted and documents seized in a police raid on the insurance fund's central office in Moscow and eight of its regional offices, as well as on the headquarters of partner firms and companies involved in a state-run program to provide free or subsidized drugs to low-income population groups.

The fund declined to comment on the issue. "I can neither confirm nor deny anything. I have nothing to tell you on the matter," the fund's press secretary told a RIA Novosti correspondent.

A spokeswoman for the Basmanny Court in Moscow, which sanctioned the arrest of the fund's officials, said that besides Taranov and Usenko the court sanctioned arrests of Audit Department Head Tatyana Markova, Financial Department Head Nina Frolova, Deputy Directors Natalia Klimova and Dmitry Shilyayev, and Chief Accountant Galina Bykova.

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