Home ENGLISH ARTICLES Pfizergate Investigation Taken Over By Top European Prosecutors

Pfizergate Investigation Taken Over By Top European Prosecutors

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Pfizergate Investigation Taken Over By Top Europea…
Pfizergate Investigation Taken Over By Top Europea…

Pfizergate Investigation Taken Over By Top European Prosecutors

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Top prosecutors are investigating allegations of criminal wrongdoing in connection with covid vaccine negotiations between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the CEO of Pfizer Albert Bourla.

Investigators from the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) recently took over from Belgian prosecutors who had been investigating von der Leyen over “interference in public functions, destruction of SMS, corruption and conflict of interest,” according to a spokesperson from the Liège prosecutor’s office legal documents seen by POLITICO.

While EPPO’s prosecutors are investigating alleged criminal offenses, no one has yet been charged in connection with the case.

Politico reports:

The probe was originally opened by Belgian judicial authorities in the city of Liège in early 2023 after a criminal complaint lodged by local lobbyist Frédéric Baldan. He was later joined by the Hungarian and Polish governments — although the latter is in the process of withdrawing its complaint after the election win by a pro-EU government led by Donald Tusk, a Polish government spokesperson told POLITICO.

Baldan’s complaint centered around an alleged exchange of text messages between von der Leyen and Pfizer boss Albert Bourla in the run-up to the EU’s biggest vaccine deal at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, in an affair dubbed “Pfizergate.”

The New York Times, which first revealed that the exchange had taken place as the two leaders hashed out the terms of the deal, has launched a parallel lawsuit against the Commission after it refused to disclose the content of the messages following an access to documents request.

News that EPPO is now investigating the case risks putting further scrutiny on the Commission president’s role in the mega vaccine deal, which had an estimated value of over €20 billion. EPPO leads pan-European investigations into financial crimes, and in theory could seize phones and other relevant material from Commission offices or in other countries in Europe such as von der Leyen’s native Germany.

The development comes at a delicate moment for the EU’s chief, as she navigates the transition to what Brussels observers expect will be a second term at the head of the Berlaymont.

The Commission has so far refused to reveal the content of the text messages, or even confirm their existence.

The deal, negotiated at the height of the pandemic in 2021, was originally seen as a triumph for von der Leyen. But the sheer amount of vaccines purchased has since raised eyebrows, with POLITICO revealing late last year that there were at least €4 billion worth of wasted doses. The vaccine contract with Pfizer has since been renegotiated.

Transparency campaigners and some political opponents have sought to put pressure on the Commission to discuss the case, but von der Leyen has so far avoided addressing it. In a reply to a direct question put to her by POLITICO about missing text messages, von der Leyen said: “Everything necessary about that has been said and exchanged. And we will wait for the results.”

In 2022, EPPO announced it was looking into the EU’s vaccine procurement more generally, but this is the first time that the office has been linked with Pfizergate explicitly……

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