Former Romanian PM officially investigated in corruption case targeting COVID vaccine purchases
The National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) announced on December 6 that it started the criminal investigation against former prime minister Florin Cîțu for complicity in abuse of office. The case targets the purchase of significantly more COVID-19 vaccine doses than necessary during the pandemic, although Romania could have used the opt-out option under the European mechanism.
Prosecutors say that on April 19, 2021, and May 13, 2021, Cîțu, who was prime minister at the time, “in violation of the legal provisions and without any documents/analyses attesting the necessity of the purchase,” approved two memoranda issued by the Ministry of Health that allowed the acquisition of significantly more Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses than necessary (as 10.7 million people were eligible for vaccination).
Thus, although the roughly 37.58 million doses bought before January 1, 2021, would have been enough to vaccinate more than 23 million people, through his actions, the former PM allegedly facilitated the purchase of an additional 43.35 million vaccine doses worth over EUR 825,600 without VAT.
At DNA’s request, the Senate voted recently to lift the immunity of former prime minister Florin Cîțu, currently a Liberal (PNL) senator, to allow his investigation in this case.
Probes into former health ministers Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă were also approved in the same case. On November 27, president Klaus Iohannis submitted to justice minister Alina Gorghiu the requests to initiate criminal proceedings against the two former government officials.
All three officials denied wrongdoing in this case and said they trusted the justice procedures to uncover the truth.
Florin Cîțu was prime minister for almost a year, from December 2020 to November 2021, and is currently a senator. Vlad Voiculescu was minister of health between December 2020 and April 2021, succeeded by Ioana Mihăilă, who led the ministry until September 2021.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea)