Moldovan prosecutors say a former health minister and 11 others, including hospital chiefs, have been detained on suspicion of fraudulent acquisitions of drugs and medical equipment.

The National Anti-Corruption Center said Andrei Usatii, already charged March 2 with abusing his position, was detained Wednesday for 72 hours. Prosecutors searched public institutes Wednesday in connection with the case.

Prosecutors say that in 2012 when Usatii was minister, he illegally helped the private partners of a state hospital by issuing a letter of guarantee for them using state assets as a guarantee, something he was not entitled to do.

He denies wrongdoing and says the probe is politically motivated.

The director of the Emergency Hospital, one of the main hospitals in the capital, Chisinau, and other hospital and medical chiefs were also detained.