Two weeks after Pfizer CEO bailed on EU testimony in the wake of a report highlighting a ‘secretive’ vaccine deal between himself and European Commission President Ursula ‘missing texts‘ von der Leyen, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has opened an investigation into the EU’s Covid-19 vaccine purchases, Politico reports.
EPPO, and independent EU body, is responsible for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes, including fraud, money laundering and corruption, according to the report. In its Friday announcement, the body did not specify who was being investigated, or which contracts were the subject of inquiry.
“This exceptional confirmation comes after the extremely high public interest. No further details will be made public at this stage,” said the EPPO.
In April 2021, the New York Times first reported on text messages exchanged between von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in the run-up to the EU’s biggest vaccine procurement contract — for up to 1.8 billion doses of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. The deal would be worth up to €35 billion if fully exercised, according to leaked vaccine prices.
In January this year, the EU’s ombudsman charged the Commission with maladministration for failing to look for the text messages in response to a freedom of information request. Without confirming the existence of the texts, the Commission argued in its response that “short-lived, ephemeral documents are not kept.” It said that a search for the text messages hadn’t yielded any results. -Politico- READ MORE