The Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the subsidiary Charité CFM

Doubtful order

The public prosecutor’s office is investigating the subsidiary Charité


Tue 26.07.22 | 06:06 | FROM Rene Althammer

dpa / XAMAX

Audio: rbb24 Inforadio | 26/07/2022 | Rene Althammer | Picture: dpa / XAMAX

The Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the subsidiary Charité CFM. It concerns possible violations of the public procurement law and contracts worth over EUR 1.5 million. Author: René Althammer, rbb24 research

From June this year. the Berlin prosecutor’s office is investigating the employees of Charité Facility Management GmbH (CFM) on suspected abuse of trust and breach of purchasing guidelines. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the General Prosecutor’s Office, interviewed by the rbb24 research. He did not want to provide any information about the details and possible amount of damages in connection with the ongoing investigation.

Charité Facility Management GmbH (CFM)

CFM has been a service provider to Charité since 2006. In 2019, the company with around 3,000 employees was reintegrated into Charité and is now a 100% subsidiary of the largest university hospital in Europe. In CFM, security and security services, technical services, cleaning and transport services, and catering are combined.

Source: CFM – Charité Facility Management [cfm-charite.de]

All offers in December

One case concerns a company based in Calau in southern Brandenburg – hereinafter referred to as company A *. CFM, a subsidiary of Charité, is also one of the customers. The owner of the company submitted 23 bids to CFM, which should be processed within twelve months. Total volume: just over 330,000 euros.

These are special software applications in the logistics and handling of sterile goods required in every hospital. Apparently, a successful small business owner who doesn’t have his own website and doesn’t appear in any of the regular business databases has made a good deal here.

All offers are for 2020. If you look at the listing printouts, everything seems fine: January has offers for February and the following months, all dated accordingly. However, if you look at the metadata that shows when the file was created, you’ll see that all quotes were apparently created in December 2020 and are backdated to the current year – just like invoices. But so far no one has been interested.

Charité points out that there was a framework contract with the company for 2020 which is said to have been concluded in January of the same year. “The service provider was billed in December 2020,” he continues. But that doesn’t explain why the offers – if the metadata is correct – were only created at this point. Charité denies the possibility of backdating.

No tender

Rbb asked an expert in public procurement law to examine the available documents. His verdict: the work should be announced for tender. Exceptions, such as the counterparty’s unique selling proposition, are not recognizable. But CFM chose not to advertise, Charité explains. Reason: The required services can only be “provided technically by (Company A – editor’s note) … be delivered “.

Moreover, after the “market investigation” it became clear that only Company A could make production capacity available in the short term – which the company probably did. Over 360 business days have been settled. According to his social media posts, the successful entrepreneur was at the time employed by a medical technology company. Charité was unable to provide any information on how many employees he had – he did not answer rbb’s inquiries himself.

More troubled interests

In addition, the prosecution is currently investigating seven other cases, all from 2019 and 2020. The allegations were made public for the first time in the summer of 2021 via Charité’s internal ‘reporting system’. Germany’s largest university hospital then commissioned an audit firm to investigate possible violations of public procurement law and compliance rules. The results of the auditors were submitted to the prosecutor’s office for the first time in December 2021, but then they did not recognize any preliminary suspicions and in the same month the previously initiated investigation was discontinued “due to lack of suspicion”.

Rbb has been assessing the data and information for several months and contacted the prosecution in May this year. with research. The investigation was resumed shortly thereafter. According to the prosecution, “not all documents, all information” were probably available at the time of the decision to hire him in December.

One of the cases investigated by rbb was a company based in northern Germany – hereinafter referred to as B *. The owner is an undisputed expert in the field of organizing the handling of sterile goods in hospitals – and at CFM she was employed in 2019 and 2020 – in the field of central sterilization. On the web you can find a presentation of the project in which she was involved in 2017-2019. The idea was to reorganize the processes in the ‘sterile products area’ at several Charité sites in Berlin

The project had not been previously advertised

Her own company B was also launched in 2019 and 2020 without an invitation to tender – for services which, according to the presentation, she also provided earlier as an employee: total value of over 200,000 euros, totaling over 200 business days – although there were also permanently employed. With whom and how many employees was B provided services, Charité did not provide any information. Nothing about the company can be found on the Internet or in business databases either. According to Charité for rbb, the company was the only contractor to consider given its many years of “screen reorganization experience”.

Only possible contractor? It sounds a bit different in the presentation of the project for 2017/19. It says that the “reorganization” was carried out “internally” by CFM employees and external consultants. And it was clearly stated that the external consulting services had been advertised before.

However, at some point in 2019, there was likely a staffing problem, according to Charité: “The resulting range of necessary services could no longer be managed by current CFM employees for efficiency reasons.” Company B submitted its bids, a project that had previously been implemented “in-house” was now largely in their hands. Nothing was advertised.

In Berlin, the so-called threshold is 10,000 euros – that’s where you have to advertise. Unless there are no other suppliers on the market. The prosecution will now have to investigate whether this is the case. Company B owner did not comment despite inquiries. Charité explains that the contracts were not the subject of an invitation to tender.

The left wing and Verdi demand explanations

Tobias Schulze (Die Linke) is not only deputy chairman of the parliamentary group and member of the Health and Science Committee of the House of Representatives in Berlin. Already in March, he asked the House of Representatives if there were violations of public procurement law and compliance rules in the CFM. The relevant administration of the Senate confirmed these events and referred to statements by Charité and CFM that the review did not raise any preliminary suspicions of “criminal law relevant acts”. Schulze did not want to be content with this and demanded access to the file, which he had previously been refused in connection with the pending proceedings.

In his opinion, problems arose when the previously privatized CFM returned to Charité in 2019. “Of course, during the transition phase, various possibilities have arisen or have arisen to be able to do things that were not properly advertised and accounted for,” says Schulze to rbb. He looks forward to fully investigating the allegations. “Of course, the largest university hospital in Europe has quite an impressive number of orders to be awarded. You just have to do it right. “

Kalle Kunkel, Verdi’s representative on the CFM supervisory board, views these processes much more critically. The CFM supervisory board was informed about the incidents, but: “Both the compliance reports, Charité’s attorney’s assessment and the commissioned investigation report are not available to us. We cannot exercise our supervisory function in this way. “

Obtaining further competitive offers

Kunkel demands a tightening of control and Senate representatives on the supervisory board – and clarification of matters that have come to light. This should also include the case of C *. The company supports CFM in personnel matters. The relevant contract was signed on January 4, 2020 – again without an invitation to tender. At one point, the person responsible at CFM must have noticed that this could become a problem.

In May 2020, it was at least dissolved “to the file”. A good five months after signing the contract, CFM received two competitive offers – both higher than the offer of C. services. The process of selecting the future service provider by the HR development department was carried out The selection process led to the conclusion that: (Company C – editor’s note) it turned out to be the best bidder in terms of costs ”. Then, although there was a “selection process”, additional bids were obtained “to ensure that this was with the company (C – author’s note) … the agreed price is still the best price. “

One of the bids comes from a company whose owner sits on the board of company C, according to Creditreform. Charité’s comment: “CFM does not have specific knowledge of the business relationships of the companies that submitted comparative bids.” The management of Company C also did not respond to the inquiries.

It is striking that reportedly several cases investigated by rbb were handled by the same employees at CFM. The public prosecutor’s office will now answer the open-ended questions.

* Note: The names of the companies concerned are known to rbb.

Broadcast: rbb24 Inforadio, July 26, 2022, 7:25

René Althammer’s contribution


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