State institution awards convicted physician $485,600 grant

November 10, 2017

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Despite being sentenced for fraud and private document forgery, obstetrician-gynecologist Attila Vereczky’s company was awarded a HUF 130 million (USD 485,600) grant by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH), reports abcug.hu.

After a protracted inquiry, the NKFIH eventually awarded Vereczky’s Humán Reprodukciós Intézet Ltd. (Human Reproduction Institute) the HUF 130 million grant at the end of October. The NKFIH’s decision is interesting in light of the fact that Vereczky has been sentenced multiple times throughout his career and is currently on the National Tax and Customs Administration’s list of debtors with a tax debt higher than HUF 10 million (USD 37,350). In 2014, the print daily Magyar Nemzet estimated Vereczky’s debt to be at least HUF 140 million (USD 523,000).

Moreover, last year the physician was fined HUF 1 million for causing financial damage to 88 women between 2003 and 2005 by asking money for treatments otherwise supported by state health insurance. In many of the cases, Vereczky tampered with his patients’ medical records so as to suggest they needed such specific treatment.

In 2006, Vereczky stood trial for forging his medical operational certificate and using it for public procurement. The obstetrician-gynecologist was condemned by the Ethical Committee of Hungarian Medical Chamber twice, once in 2004 and once in 2006. Most recently the chamber reproached him for an unethical advertisement of the Versys private clinic operated by Vereczky’s company.

Vereczky‘s most serious abuse to date was to ask vast sums of money from his patients for a so-called array comparative genomic hybridization treatment considered a human experiment under Hungarian law. As such, no consideration can be requested in exchange for treatment. Moreover, Vereczky’s clinic did not even have the necessary authorizations to conduct such experiments. The National Public Health and Medical Officer Service (ÁNTSZ) eventually banned the clinic from conducting such experiments.

This year Vereczky’s company applied for  an NKFIH grant “supporting research, development, and innovation of businesses” worth a total of HUF 19 billion (USD 71 million). Although, according to the NKFIH, his company met every requirement and was deemed “recommended for support”, the company did not receive a grant at first. The company applied for grants to develop a “medical professional protocol service for the better treatment of infertility.”

NKFIH stepped back from signing a support contract with Vereczky’s company when negative comments and articles started to surface about him. Eventually, NKFIH awarded his clinic the HUF 130 million grant, arguing that there was no legal reason to change the decision. According to NKFIH, having been convicted and owing millions to the state were not exclusionary reasons. One relevant factor in NKFIH’s decision might have been that Vereczky is not the official owner of Humán Reprodukciós Intézet Ltd., as it is owned by his sibling and 80-year-old mother.

NKFIH provided the grant as post-financing, and will only start to pay if they find all the professional reports of the company satisfactory.