Update - COVID vaccine purchases: Romania’s former health minister Vlad Voiculescu charged with abuse of office
Update: DNA prosecutors also charged former health minister Ioana Mihăilă with abuse of office in the same case. Similar to Vlad Voiculescu, she allegedly initiated a memorandum that former prime minister Florin Cîțu approved on May 13, 2021, which would have resulted in the trading and procurement of an additional 34 million Pfizer vaccine doses, although the vaccines contracted before January 1, 2021 would have been sufficient. She drew up the memorandum "in violation of the legal provisions and without any documents/analyses attesting the necessity of the purchase.”
Initial story: Vlad Voiculescu, Romania's minister of health between December 2020 and April 2021, has officially been charged with abuse of office and complicity in abuse of office in the case targeting the purchase of significantly more COVID-19 vaccine doses than necessary during the pandemic.
Anticorruption (DNA) prosecutors started an investigation into COVID vaccine purchases last month, accusing former prime minister Florin Cîțu and former health ministers Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă of having contracted more COVID-19 vaccine doses than necessary in January-May 2021, causing damage to the state budget.
DNA officially started the criminal investigation against Cîțu earlier this week, and on Friday, December 8, also officially charged Voiculescu with abuse of office.
Prosecutors say that on March 10 and 18, 2021, respectively, Vlad Voiculescu, as minister of health, "in violation of the legal provisions and without any documents/analyses attesting the necessity of the purchase," transacted and ordered payment for the additional purchase of more than 14.4 million Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses. He allegedly contracted the extra doses despite knowing that 10.7 million people were eligible for vaccination, and the vaccine doses contracted before January 1, 2021 (37,588,366 doses) would have been sufficient to vaccinate more than 23 million people.
In addition, Vlad Voiculescu drew up a memorandum that former PM Florin Cîțu approved on April 19, 2021, which would have resulted in the trading and ordering the purchase of an additional 4,260,269 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The prosecutors say that a secretary of state supported the document in the government meeting at that time, being delegated by the minister of health.
Vlad Voiculecu, similar to the other suspects in the case, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Before going to the DNA headquarters on December 8, he told reporters that Florin Cîțu always consulted president Klaus Iohannis on matters related to the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
"Not only did I not sign the respective contracts, but when they made the decisions to sign them and communicated the decision to the European Commission, which took the order further, they did not even inform me," he said, quoted by News.ro.
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)