National / Crime & Legal

Ex-Kyoto University Hospital figure held in medical-equipment procurement bribe probe

Kyodo

A doctor and former associate professor at a medical institution of the prestigious Kyoto University was arrested Sunday for allegedly receiving bribes in the form of luxury bags and other items worth about ¥300,000 from a medical equipment trader in exchange for ensuring the company was favored in receiving orders from the university for its equipment.

Akira Marui, 47, is suspected of receiving three foreign-brand items, including a wheeled carry-on bag and a suitcase, in October 2012 and September 2013 from Kozo Nishimura, 39, an employee of Nishimura Kikai Co., who was also arrested Sunday, police said.

Marui allegedly helped ensure the Kyoto-based company received orders for medical equipment for use in a research project on vascular regenerative medicine at Kyoto University Hospital’s Institute for Advancement of Clinical and Translational Science, where he was responsible for selecting the equipment, the Kyoto Prefectural Police said.

As the equipment was used in vascular regenerative medicine and thus qualified for a health ministry research subsidy program, the purchase was made using taxpayer money, in addition to university budget outlays.

The police plan to send the case to prosecutors Monday and also conduct on-site investigations of related locations at the hospital and at Nishimura Kikai.

The police believe Marui asked Nishimura to provide him with the items, which the latter allegedly purchased using company money.

Marui, a resident of Tenri, Nara Prefecture, was in charge of equipment procurement from Nishimura Kikai worth over ¥50 million in a period from August 2009 to July 2014. Much of the equipment was for use in experiments using animals.

The police alleged that Marui gave Nishimura information on what equipment his institution was planning to purchase before asking Nishimura Kikai rivals to submit price estimates. Nishimura is suspected of having used the information to prepare more competitive offers than rivals by working out elaborate plans with manufacturers.

The two men are believed to have come to know each other in 2009 when Marui became an associate professor of the university. Nishimura had already been responsible for business with the university as a sales representative.

Kyoto University has an internal rule that calls for obtaining cost estimates from multiple companies for purchases worth ¥1 million or more that do not entail bidding.

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