European Public Prosecutor’s Office investigates vaccine deal between Commission and Pfizer | Covid-19

European Public Prosecutor’s Office investigates vaccine deal between Commission and Pfizer | Covid-19
European Public Prosecutor’s Office investigates vaccine deal between Commission and Pfizer | Covid-19
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The European Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating alleged criminal offenses related to negotiations for the acquisition of vaccines against covid-19 between the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the executive director of Pfizer, Alberto Bourla, during the peak of the pandemic .

According to the site Politico, which consulted legal documents and quotes a spokesperson for the Liège prosecutor’s office, the alleged crimes under investigation are “interference in public functions, deletion of text messages, corruption and conflict of interest”.

The investigation was originally opened by Belgian judicial authorities in the city of Liège in early 2023, following a criminal complaint filed by local lobbyist Frédéric Baldan, which was later joined by the governments of Hungary and Poland. The latter ended up withdrawing the complaint when the pro-European Union government led by Donald Tusk took office after winning the legislative elections in October 2023.

The case, which became known as “Pfizergate”, centers on alleged text message exchanges between Von der Leyen and Bourla during negotiations for the EU’s vaccine procurement, raising questions about transparency and accountability. It also comes at a delicate time, when the leader of the European Commission is in full campaign for the European elections in June as spitzenkandidat of the European People’s Party and candidate for a second term in Berlaymont.

The agreement between the European Commission and Pfizer to acquire vaccines for Covid-19, with an estimated value of 20 billion euros, was negotiated at the height of the pandemic, in 2021 and considered a great victory for Von der Leyen . The contract ended up being renegotiated at the end of last year, when Politico reported the existence of at least four billion euros in wasted doses.

To date, the European Commission has refused to reveal the content of text messages between Ursula von Der Leyen and Alberto Bourla, or even confirm their existence. The SMS exchange was initially reported by New York Times in April 2021.

In a piece titled “How Europe sealed a vaccine deal with Pfizer through text messages and phone calls”, the North American newspaper reported on the conversations between Von der Leyen and Bourla that led to the agreement between the US-based pharmaceutical multinational and the European Commission for the supply of 1.8 billion doses of vaccines.

Faced with the refusal of both the European Commission and Von der Leyen herself to reveal the alleged messages, the NY Times brought proceedings against the Commission demanding access to the content of the SMS. On March 7th, when asked about the case, Ursula von der Leyen replied: “Everything you need to know regarding the matter has already been said and shared. Let’s wait for the results.”

The arrival of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office could lead to progress in the case. The EU investigative body is mandated to conduct pan-European inquiries into financial crimes and can, in theory, seize phones and other materials it deems relevant from the offices of the European Commission or in other European countries, such as Ursula’s home country of Germany. von der Leyen.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: European Public Prosecutors Office investigates vaccine deal Commission Pfizer Covid19

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