Inspectors from the Ministry of Public Security have sought charges with heavier punishments against 12 people, including six doctors, for abuse of power that caused losses of over VND4.1 billion to the state coffers.
They made the proposal after completing additional investigations into the scam led by Luu To Lan, a doctor at Ho Chi Minh City-based Cho Ray Hospital.
With the new charges, "abuse of power to appropriate property," the ring will face jail terms of up to 20 years or even life sentences, if convicted.
The earlier charges of "power abuse while on duty" sought by police in June were punishable by jail terms of up to 10-15 years.
According to inspectors, Lan and her accomplices illegally collected health insurance cards of workers in and around the city who under the law are insured by the government insurance agency.
They also faked documents showing that the workers were transferred from other hospitals to Cho Ray for treatment.
Using these documents, the ring obtained drugs from the hospital and later sold them to local pharmacies at cheaper than market prices, inspectors said.
It was estimated that between 2008 and last May, 2009 Lan and her accomplices, mostly health workers in HCMC and the adjacent province of Dong Nai, earned over VND2.65 billion ($135,932) from selling the drugs, VND1.1 billion ($56,424) of which was pocketed by Lan.
Inspectors said they are currently hunting for another suspect, Vu Dinh Toan.