EU has opened probe into the vaccine deals. The case is one of “extremely high public interest,” according to the prosecution.
The European Union prosecutor’s office has opened an inquiry into the bloc’s acquisition of billions of Covid-19 vaccine dosages, following accusations of corruption and hidden backroom transactions from numerous EU parliament members.
On Friday, EU officials issued a short statement acknowledging a “ongoing investigation into the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union.” They noted that the case stems from “extremely high public interest” in the matter, but declined to provide any further specifics.
While prosecutors remained tight-lipped about the specifics of the investigation, the revelation comes after MEPs claimed that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen secretly negotiated vaccines with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Despite requests from journalists, legislators, and an EU watchdog, von der Leyen’s office has refused to reveal personal text messages addressed to Bourla during negotiations for roughly 2 billion vaccine doses, sparking charges of corruption.
Later on Friday, Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakusic mentioned the latest probe, claiming the decision was made due to legislative pressure. Kolakusic has been strongly skeptical of the EU’s vaccine procurement procedure, claiming transactions for billions of doses were tainted by “corruption” and secrecy.
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“Today, 10 of us MEPs asked [von der Leyen] the following question: when will she present to us… the communication she had with Pfizer during the procurement of 4.5 billion doses of vaccines at a time when there was absolutely no proof of the effectiveness, and especially not of the harmfulness, of that product?” he said in a tweet earlier this week, calling the issue the “biggest corruption scandal in the history of mankind.”
The European Court of Auditors stated (read below) last month that it had requested information from the commission regarding “preliminary negotiations” for the EU’s largest Pfizer acquisition, including “scientific experts consulted and advice received, timing of the talks, records of the discussions, and details of the agreed terms and conditions,” but attached that “none was forthcoming.” The fact that the information has not yet been made public by the European Commission has fueled MEPs’ accusations of wrongdoing.
Read the document below: