Receive Breaking News updates as they occur
By Tom Bergin and Stephen Grey MOSCOW/LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Russia pays hugely inflated prices for vital medical equipment made by Western companies, in part because some manufacturers channel sales through obscure intermediary companies, a Reuters examination has found. These middlemen firms, which have no easily traceable owners or offices, add mark-ups that mean Russian state hospitals frequently pay two or three times more than hospitals in the West for the same equipment. A Reuters examination of Russian customs data and state procurement records shows the price differences can be hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single item. An analysis of 20,000 transactions dated between January 2006 and July 2013 found that international companies sold Russia medical devices worth more than $2.8 billion through more than 150 obscure companies and partnerships.