Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is threatened by a major health scandal after receiving a bill of 300 million dollars for vaccines that have never been received. The head of imports from the Brazilian Ministry of Health, who revealed the case, arrived in a bulletproof vest at his hearing before a parliamentary committee.
Since his accession to power, the Brazilian head of state has suffered scandals one after the other, but the latter may not be without consequences.
The scandal concerns the purchase of 20 million of the Indian vaccine Covaxin manufactured by the Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech through a Brazilian company already accused of fraud, and a shell company in Singapore.
The Brazilian federal prosecutor has opened an investigation to explain how the invoice of 41.6 billion reais arrived on the office of the Ministry of Health, for vaccines purchased 11 times more expensive than their initial price. The order was never received and the vaccine has not been approved by the country’s health institutions.
Luis Ricardo Miranda, the head of imports from the Brazilian health ministry, who was questioned by the Parliamentary Commission (ICC), arrived in bulletproof vests fearing for his life. He said he did not want to sign payment for the invoice that arrived on his desk.
President Jai Bolsonaro tried to extinguish the fire of criticism by downplaying the situation and claiming that the government did not have to pay for this order. But the investigation is ongoing and she is looking for a culprit.
The Senate, which set up this commission two months ago, has managed to find loopholes in this suspicious purchase. The contract did not mention the Singaporean firm Madison Biotech which sent the invoice.
Mr. Miranda then said he received phone calls from his superiors exerting on him what he described as “atypical and excessive” pressure to approve the transaction.
After meeting with President Jair Bolsonaro to brief him on the matter, Mr. Miranda then received assurances that the president would take the matter to federal police, but he did not do so.
“They are going to persecute me. I have already lost everything. I know what will happen to me, ”said Mr. Miranda, during his hearing, before releasing the name of the deputy responsible for this scandal according to Bolsonaro’s own words.
MP Ricardo Barros, a powerful MP who heads the pro-Bolsonaro coalition in parliament, was a former health minister. He has denied the facts just like the Brazilian president and both accused the head of medical imports of campaigning against him.