Romania's National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) announced today that former Prime Minister Florin Cățu is under investigation for committing two crimes in connection with complicity in abuse of office with particularly serious consequences in a case for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, Agerpres reported.
The announcement comes after Florin Cuțu appeared at the headquarters of the directorate, where he was informed of the allegations.
Cățu, who served as Romania's premier from the National Liberal Party from December 2020 to November 2021, spent less than half an hour at the headquarters of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate. On his way out of the building, he said he had exercised his powers as prime minister in compliance with current legislation and that he believed in justice.
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"I can't make any more statements. I have exercised my powers as Prime Minister in compliance with the legislation in force. Of course, I believe in justice. I can no longer talk about a case under investigation ... ," the former prime minister, who was stripped of immunity from a member of parliament (senator) to be investigated, told journalists.
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office notes that the European Commission's June 2020 strategy to supply COVID-19 vaccines provided for a centralised approach to the purchase of vaccines by negotiating preliminary agreements with manufacturers on behalf of Member States by the Commission. Vaccines had to be distributed among countries according to population size, and the decision to prioritise vaccination of certain groups was left to member states.
The Office specifies that Member States were able to use, within five days of notification, a waiver clause so that they would not be obliged to pay contributions for vaccines they decided not to request.
"In the context mentioned above, on the dates of 19 April and 13 May 2021, suspect Florin Vasile Cățu, in his capacity as Prime Minister in the Government of Romania, in violation of legal provisions and in the absence of any documents or analyses confirming the necessity of the purchase, approved two memoranda of the Ministry of Health, on the basis of which a much larger number of doses of vaccines was agreed (Pfizer and Modern), provided that the fact was known that the number of persons to be vaccinated reported by the Romanian state to the European Commission was 10.7 million," the DNA said in a statement.
"In particular, although the agreed doses of vaccines before 1 January 2021 (37,588,366 doses) would be sufficient to vaccinate over 23 million people, through his actions, the suspect, Florin Vasile Cățu, helped the leadership of the Ministry of Health negotiate and order the payment of an additional purchase of another 43,359,892 doses of vaccines worth EUR 825,636,678 excluding VAT," The prosecutor's office also notes.
The case for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines also affects former health ministers Vlad Voiculescu and Joanna Mihaila, Agerpres reminds.
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