European Prosecutors Investigate Pfizer-EU Vaccine Negotiations

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European Prosecutors Investigate Allegations Surrounding Pfizer-EU Vaccine Negotiations

Introduction
Top European prosecutors are delving into potential criminal activities linked to vaccine negotiations between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer’s CEO. This investigation, now under the jurisdiction of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), revolves around allegations of misconduct including “interference in public functions, destruction of SMS, corruption, and conflict of interest.”

Background
The probe stemmed from a criminal complaint filed by Belgian lobbyist Frédéric Baldan in early 2023, centered on alleged text message exchanges between von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, referred to as “Pfizergate.” The involvement of Hungarian and Polish governments in the complaint underscores its significance, although Poland is in the process of withdrawing its complaint following political developments.

Investigative Focus
EPPO’s involvement signifies a shift towards pan-European scrutiny of financial crimes. The investigation potentially involves seizing relevant materials, including phones, from Commission offices or other European countries. This development casts a spotlight on von der Leyen’s role in the substantial vaccine deal, valued at over €20 billion.

Challenges and Responses
Von der Leyen’s office has neither disclosed the content of the text messages nor confirmed their existence. Transparency campaigners and political adversaries urge the Commission to address the case, yet von der Leyen has thus far evaded direct engagement, stating that all pertinent matters have been discussed and awaiting results.

Legal Complexities
The EPPO investigation intertwines with ongoing legal battles involving pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and governments like Hungary and Poland. Baldan’s complaint, supported by the involvement of European governments, amplifies the gravity of the allegations against von der Leyen. Hungary and Poland’s legal challenges against Pfizer, coupled with their complaints regarding vaccine negotiations, further complicate the legal landscape.

Implications and Developments
The involvement of EPPO marks a significant escalation in the investigation, with potential repercussions for both von der Leyen and Pfizer. The lack of public disclosure surrounding the case leaves room for speculation, while the withdrawal of Poland’s complaint introduces a dynamic element to the proceedings. However, the full extent of the investigation’s impact remains uncertain.

Conclusion
As European prosecutors delve deeper into allegations surrounding Pfizer-EU vaccine negotiations, the case underscores the complex interplay between legal, political, and financial interests. With the EPPO now leading the investigation, the outcome could have far-reaching consequences for all parties involved, reshaping the narrative surrounding one of the most significant vaccine deals in EU history.

Related: Pfizer’s Oncology Shift

Source: Politico