The billion-dollar purchase of the Indian vaccine Covaxin, the central target of investigations carried out by Covid’s Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) on the administration of General Eduardo Pazuello at the Ministry of Health, has gained a new chapter, with the suspicion of fraud in documents that contained in the contract for the purchase of the immunizing agent by the Bolsonaro government.
Yesterday, the Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech, which produces Covaxin, added new elements to the suspicions surrounding the deal. In a statement, the company said that it had terminated its agreement with Need Medicines, which represented it in Brazil, and also stated that it has not signed two letters that are part of the administrative process for the purchase of the immunizing agent and that were sent to the Ministry of Health. , which bear the logo, stamp and signature of a Bharat representative, had already been included in the material sent by the folder to Covid’s Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) in the Senate.
On February 25, the Ministry of Health signed a purchase contract with Necessidade, which represented Bharat, for the purchase of 20 million doses of the vaccine. The contract was suspended by the Ministry of Health on June 29, following a recommendation by the Federal Comptroller General (CGU). The acquisition became the target of multiple investigations, on suspicion of irregularities and corruption. In addition to Covid’s CPI, the hiring is investigated by the Federal Police (PF), the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU).
The letters delivered by Preta Medications to the Ministry of Health have strong evidence of ‘gluing’ and image manipulation. In a simple way, the report identified that, behind both letters, there is the same document: an application for a visa for a representative of Necessidade, identified as Eduardo Sanchez.
The report identified that, in the two letters, there are three files, glued together. The first files of the outermost layers are the letters denied by Bharat. Then there are blank elements. At the bottom, there is a letterhead with a visa application.
As the file is structured, blank elements cover the content of the visa application. All that remains is the Bharat Biotech logo and the signature with the pharmacist’s stamp, which are visible on the letters delivered by Need to the Ministry of Health. In one of the letters, Bharat’s stamp was “erased” by a blank element. And replaced by an identical one a little higher up.
The two letters presented by Necessidade are dated February 19th. One of them would be a full-fledged authorization for Conceica. The Brazilian company would be the “legal and exclusive representative in Brazil with the power to receive all notifications from the Government”.
The document with evidence of collage was revealed by the radio CBN and confirmed by state. The report spoke with the president of the National Association of Federal Criminal Experts (APCF), Marcos Camargo. In his assessment, a criminal investigation “would be able to say exactly what happened and how it happened”.
“Apparently, there is a possibility of tampering with the document, by taking advantage of the signature image and stamp of another document, and fraud, by manipulating the document’s content, substituting one text for another,” he told Estadão.
In the statement, Bharat says that “emphatically, these documents were not issued by the company or its executives and therefore we vehemently deny them.”
In a document sent to senator Omar Aziz, president of Covid’s CPI, the lawyers for Necessidade said that the company did not produce the letters. According to the defense, the documents were sent to him by Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC, a company that appears in the memorandum of understanding signed with Bharat in November last year.
In negotiations about the immunizing agent, the Ministry of Health has pledged to pay US$ 15 per dose, the most expensive vaccine acquired by the country so far. Anvisa has not yet authorized the emergency or definitive use of the immunizing agent.
The CPI has already identified 21 irregularities in the process of Necessidade and, so far, the contract between Barath and the representative in Brazil is not known. This is one of the documents that the CPI itself is trying to find.
In its statement, Bharat states that, on November 24 of last year, it entered into a memorandum of understanding with Necessidade and Envixia Pharmaceuticals LLC to supply Covaxin, but that it “rescinded the memorandum of understanding with immediate effect”.
Bharat reaffirmed that the price of the vaccine is US$ 15. An internal document from the Ministry of Health registered that, in a meeting with Necessidade and Bharat, on November 20 of last year, the mentioned amount of the dose was US$ 10. The document was revealed by Estadão on July 3rd. “It is also informed that the company did not receive advance payments or provide vaccines to the Ministry of Health of Brazil”, stated the company.
Sought, Need Medicines said it regretted the “cancellation of the memorandum of understanding” that made the partnership with Bharat Biotech feasible. “The hasty decision unfortunately undermines the national effort to defeat a disease that has already claimed more than 500,000 lives in the country and is even more regrettable because it is a direct consequence of the political chaos that has become the debate on the pandemic, which should have as a focus on public health, not political interests”, informed the company.
The information is from the newspaper The State of São Paulo.
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