Buenos Aires: The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil gave the go ahead signal on a probe into President Jair Bolsonaro regarding supposed overpricing during the purchase of India’s Coronavirus vaccine Covaxin, the G1 website said.
Last month, the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported that the Bolsonaro-led government signed a deal for 20 million vaccine doses, $15 each. However, as per a secret message from the Brazilian embassy in New Delhi, the original price for one Covaxin dose was 100 rupees ($1.34). As a result, opposition lawmakers pushed for an investigation over the matter.
As per the website, Justice Rosa Weber greenlit the probe for 90 days, acknowledging the request of the attorney general’s office.
Bolsonaro was reportedly also informed about possible violations many months ago. The probe will try to find out if the Brazilian president was doing something about it.
Covaxin’s Indian manufacturer Bharat Biotech has meanwhile denied any wrongdoing with respect to vaccine supply.
“In the specific case of procurement of COVAXIN by MOH Brazil, since the first meetings with MOH Brazil during Nov 2020, until June 29, 2021, a step by step approach has been followed towards contracts, and regulatory approvals, during this eight-month-long process. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) received on June 4. As of June 29, Bharat Biotech has not received any advance payments nor supplied any vaccines to MOH Brazil. Bharat Biotech has followed a similar approach towards contracts, regulatory approvals and supplies in several countries worldwide, where COVAXIN is being supplied successfully,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement last week.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has also denied any knowledge of corruption over it, and had said on June 28 that he can not know what transpires within his ministries.
If found guilty in the above-mentioned case, the crime carries with it a prison term of between three months and a year, plus payment of a fine.