The State Attorney's Office in Brasilia launched an enquiry into the alleged mishandlings by government officials regarding the acquisition of a supply of the Indian-made anticoronavirus Covaxin immunizer.
Although the case is already under investigation by the Office of the Comptroller General of the Union, the representative of the General Prosecutor's Office in Brasilia, Luciana Loureiro, decided to extend the investigation to criminal matters in light of the possible crime of lack of administrative integrity in the purchase.
Loureiro is to focus on the irregularities in the contract between the company Precisa Medicamentos, which represents the Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech (manufacturer of Covaxin) in Brazil with the federal Ministry of Health, a transaction which has been suspended pending the outcome of the Comptroller's Office review.
Three senators had filed a lawsuit before the Supreme Court to investigate Bolsonaro for an alleged crime of prevarication when he failed to act in a corruption case. ”I filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Federal Court (STF) due to a serious complaint that the President of the Republic did not take any action after being informed of a monumental corruption scheme existing in the Ministry of Health,” said Randolfe Rodrigues, one of the plaintiffs.
Rodrigues serves as vice president of a Senate committee (CPI) that investigates actions, omissions and negligence of the Government in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic which has claimed more than 517,000 deaths and about 19 million infections to date.
Lawmakers Jorge Kajuru and Fabiano Contarato also filed notes before the STF based on the testimony of the brothers Luis and Ricardo Miranda last Friday.
The Miranda brothers stated that they informed Bolsonaro of the atypical pressure in the purchase of Covaxin and the negotiations there were alterations such as an anticipated payment to a company that did not appear in the contract. According to Luis Miranda, Bolsonaro claimed the irregularities were the fault of Deputy Ricardo Barros.
According to Rodrigues, Bolsonaro most likely knew a possible criminal network that involved the acquisition of Covaxin and of who was involved in the alleged criminal scheme.
Covaxin is the most expensive immunizer purchased by the federal government so far, and the contract signed by the Health Ministry and a local intermediary has been suspended on June 29.
Barros has denied any involvement in the irregularities.
A day before the Miranda brothers' testimony to the CPI, Bolsonaro said on social media that there was a meeting with Barros, but the Attorney General's Office claims to have been told otherwise by former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello.
The opening of the criminal investigation has been authorized by Prosecutor Paulo José Rocha Júnior at Loureiro's request. The prosecution has said that there was no justification for the inconsistencies in the negotiation other than serving interests divorced from the public interest. The Covaxin doses were negotiated at a price of US $ 15 apiece, way above that of other drugs available on the market. The deal was for 20 million doses.