The National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) is requesting approval from the Parliament and the Presidency to initiate a criminal investigation into a former Prime Minister and two former Health Ministers regarding the acquisition of anti-COVID vaccines during the pandemic, according to judicial sources.
According to the official DNA announcement, they are investigating how, from January to May 2021, individuals in the Romanian government, in violation of legal provisions and without any documents or analyses confirming the necessity of the acquisition, contracted a much larger number of doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, considering that the number of eligible individuals for vaccination was 10.7 million.
The DNA official statement does not specify any names, but judicial sources have confirmed that it involves Florin Cîțu and former Health Ministers Ioana Mihăilă and Vlad Voiculescu. In the case of Florin Cîțu, the Senate is responsible for approving the lifting of immunity, while, in the case of former USR Health Ministers, approval from the President of Romania is required.
According to prosecutors, although the vaccine doses contracted before January 1, 2021 (37,588,366 doses) would have been sufficient to vaccinate over 23 million people, an additional quantity of 52,805,690 vaccine doses was purchased, totaling €1,005,498,687, plus VAT. This amount is considered a prejudice to the state budget.
DNA is investigating how, from January to May 2021, individuals in the Romanian government, in violation of legal provisions and without any documents/analyses confirming the necessity of the acquisition, would have contracted a much larger number of vaccine doses (Pfizer and Moderna), given that the number of eligible persons for vaccination communicated by the Romanian state to the European Commission was 10.7 million.
Specifically, although the vaccine doses contracted before January 1, 2021 (37,588,366 doses) would have been sufficient to vaccinate over 23 million people, two of the three individuals for whom requests for criminal investigation are being made, with the help of the third, would have traded and ordered the additional purchase of 52,805,690 vaccine doses, totaling €1,005,498,687, plus VAT, which constitutes a prejudice to the state budget.
Florin Cîțu (PNL) was Prime Minister from December 2020 to November 2021. Ioana Mihăilă served as Minister of Health from April to September 2021, succeeding Vlad Voiculescu (December 2020, April 2021).
Former prime minister Florin Citu, a National Liberal Party (PNL) senator, says that his entire activity has been under the sign of good faith and respect for the law.
“Considering the information that appeared in the public space, I want to say that my entire activity, regardless of the public functions and offices I held, was under the sign of good faith and respect for the law, to the service of the Romanians. I have full confidence in justice and I am convinced that the procedures underway will lead to finding out the truth,” Citu posted on Facebook.
In his turn, Vlad Voiculescu said that PM Citu had made decisions regarding anti-COVID vaccines, not him.
“On September 21, 2021, I stated that an investigation into the vaccine procurement in Romania is welcome. Firstly, because a critical moment for Romania and public health has been turned into a political spectacle over the past two years by the PSD.
I would like to remind that COVID-19 vaccination fell under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister during the pandemic, not the Minister of Health. This refers to the well-known vaccination committee led by Mr. Gheorghiță, reporting to the Minister of Defense, Ciucă, and Prime Minister Cîțu. The allocation of quantities to member states was determined through a joint procurement contract by the European Commission with suppliers, primarily based on population criteria,” stated Voiculescu.
USR chairman, Catalin Drula, defended Vlad Voiculescu, saying that the National Liberal Party (PNL) assumed the responsibility for the vaccination against COVID and that former health minister Vlad Voiculescu is an honest man.
Drula says that USR will not be intimidated by case files “activated when it is politically convenient” and that “signals” have been sent not to build the right-wing pole for next year’s elections.
“We will not be intimidated. They sent us signals to cool it. Not to build the Right Pole. Not to count in next year’s elections for which the backstage scenario is already prepared. Case files activated when it’s politically convenient, in the election campaign, we’ve seen it before. That’s how they know how to work,” the USR leader wrote on Facebook on Thursday evening.
Drula added the PSD “threw itself on this false theme in order to cover the trunks of money, the asylums of horror and all the acts of horrible corruption that have mutilated” Romania.
He stressed that Vlad Voiculescu is “an honest man,” who in his three months as minister acted “responsibly and with patriotism,” but also that the PNL assumed responsibility for COVID vaccination. The European Union also ordered 4.6 billion doses for a population of 450 million, because at the time it was not known what would happen to production, what strains would emerge and how many boosters would be needed, Drula added.
PM Marcel Ciolacu, PSD chairman, said the Social Democrats will vote for lifting the immunity of National Liberal Party (PNL) senator Florin Citu. Liberal sources announced that the PNL would vote for lifting the immunity of former prime minister Florin Citu when discussed in the Senate.