Because of too much immunity to Covid, Cîţu is about to lose his parliamentary immunity

George Marinescu
English Section / 29 noiembrie 2023

Sursa foto: facebook / Florin Cîţu

Sursa foto: facebook / Florin Cîţu

Versiunea în limba română

Former Prime Minister Florin Cîţu will find out today if he remains with his immunity intact or not, after the Senate plenary will vote on the request of the DNA regarding the initiation of criminal prosecution on behalf of the current liberal senator who is accused of abuse of office in the case of the purchase of vaccines anti-Covid.

The National Anticorruption Directorate announced, last Thursday, that it has sent to the Prosecutor General of the Public Prosecutor's Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice the report of a case with a view to referencing the President of Romania and the Senate for the formulation of requests for criminal prosecution against the former Prime Minister Florin Cîţu and the former Ministers of Health Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă regarding the commission of crimes of abuse of office in connection with the purchase of the anti-Covid vaccine.

In the meantime, President Klaus Iohannis complied with the request of the General Prosecutor's Office and gave the go-ahead to start the criminal investigation for the two former Ministers of Health, and the former Prime Minister Florin Cîţu stated, after studying the material sent by the prosecutors to the Legal Commission, that he would request his colleagues from the Senate to vote for the lifting of his parliamentary immunity, so that justice can shed light on this file started on September 15, 2021, in full scandal, after the USR had left the ship of government led by the PNL on September 8.

After the opening of the criminal case in rem (regarding the existence of the facts), the incumbent Prime Minister Florin Cîţu declared on September 22, 2021 after the government meeting: "I would like to clarify a few things about the purchase of vaccines. First, the European Commission's strategy was to negotiate on behalf of the states - pay attention: on behalf of the member states - with several vaccine companies and pre-finance the contracts in part through the funds of the emergency support instrument. So the European Commission negotiated on behalf of the states and pre-financed. The vaccine was contracted while authorization, efficacy and production capacity were still uncertain. You know very well that contracts were already signed, but we did not know which of the vaccines could be used and when. Access to as many doses as possible was needed and in the shortest possible time, which is why the European Commission and the member states assumed the contracting of a larger number of doses than necessary for the population of the community bloc. At the moment, from all the negotiated contracts, the European Commission has ensured access to the member states to a number of - and I would like you to be very careful - 4.4 billion doses of vaccine until the year 2023, i.e. ten times more doses than the EU population; this, to be very clear. Romania, based on the negotiations made by the European Commission and the agreements signed with the vaccine manufacturers, can access approximately 4.3% of the number of doses authorized at the EU level; is share. This percentage represents the proportion of Romania's population compared to the EU population, plus the European economic space. All EU countries access the vaccine pro-rata - percentage in relation to the population - from the contracts concluded by the European Commission. And I have more information here, but I would like to give you one more, because I have seen former ministers of health come with all kinds of misinformation in the public space: I would like to tell you that in order to make an order, the person who signs on behalf of Romania, he is the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health, if he had a problem at one time with a certain number of doses, he would have said something. And I have more data here. They were signed, of course, by several ministers of health, recently, and we have: Mr. Nelu Tătaru signed, Mr. Nelu Tătaru, Mr. Vlad Voiculescu and Mrs. Ioana Mihăilă, and me, when I was interim minister. And here I would like to tell you about how many doses he signed for. Mr. Vlad Voiculescu signed for 28,290,000 doses, Nelu Tătaru - for 33 million, because he contracted before, I signed for 4 million doses and Mrs. Mihăilă, two months ago, signed for 21,000 doses . So if there were too many, he could say there was no more need. And at this moment, we still have... Unfortunately, here Mr. Vlad Voiculescu signed for 9 million doses of CureVac, a vaccine that was never approved, but the order is signed by Mr. Vlad Voiculescu, so that these are very clear information. So I think that sort of closes the debate about how vaccines were contracted."

Purchase without positive approval from the Ministry of Finance

Asked on that occasion how he comments on the fact that he ordered the purchase of those vaccines even though in the spring of 2021 he had a negative opinion from Alexandru Nazare, the Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Florin Cîţu stated: "The negative opinion was... So, all these vaccines are give and it is said to be included in buget; that was the only thing. The negative opinion was not for not buying vaccines, because Finance cannot give this type of opinion. Finances just said: to be budgeted. After the Ministry of Health amended the memorandum and said that they will be in the allocated budget, so those vaccines will be in the allocated budget, there was no more problem. That's what the Ministry of Finance was for. The Ministry of Finance, it is true, has asked the Ministry of Health several times for a schedule of these vaccines. I don't know if he received it, because it is the communication between the two ministries. But during this whole period, you also see that the orders were signed by the Minister of Health, so he did not oppose any order. On the contrary, he signed for 29 million, he even signed for a vaccine..., he ordered a vaccine that is not approved, Minister Vlad Voiculescu. Here I think he should explain why he made this order of 9 million doses, a vaccine that is still not approved today".

Florin Cîţu reiterated that the said procedure is one applied at the level of the entire European Union and mentioned that the vaccine doses will be delivered to our country by 2023.

Prime Minister Florin Cîţu also said on September 22, 2021: "All these data are available, I repeat, and the orders were signed by ministers of health; I was an interim minister, I signed such an order at one point. These doses were contracted and financed, and the amounts were contracted by the European Commission. As I told you, a contract was made for the European Union for 4.4 billion doses, 10 times the population of the European Union. And we, through the agreement we have, receive a share of these vaccines, that's all".

DNA prosecutors: Opt-out clause, not respected by Cîţu, Voiculescu and Mihăilă

The above arguments were repeated by Florin Cîţu even after, on November 23, 2023, the anti-corruption prosecutors requested the lifting of his parliamentary immunity for the initiation of the criminal prosecution in personae in this file. The DNA attorneys state that the in rem investigation launched on September 15, 2021 resulted in evidence that shows that although the vaccine doses contracted prior to January 1, 2021 (37,588,366 doses) would have been sufficient to vaccinate more than 23 million persons, the three dignitaries (ed. - Florin Cîţu, Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă) allegedly transacted and ordered payment for the additional purchase of 52,805,690 doses of vaccine, in a total value of 1,005,498,687 euros, at to which VAT is added, an amount that constitutes damage to the state budget, because the member states had the possibility to use, within 5 days from the notification, an "opt-out" clause, so they were not obliged to bear any kind of contribution for the vaccines they decided not to request.

Regarding the statements of the former Prime Minister Florin Cîţu, we remind you that on September 24, 2021, the former Finance Minister Alexandru Nazare, who had been dismissed precisely because of the negative opinion expressed regarding the purchase of the respective vaccines, wrote on the official Facebook page: "Prime Minister Cîţu is trying to induces the idea that Romania was obliged to order 4.3%, share, of the total vaccine doses ordered by the European Commission and that the alternative option would have been not to be part of this mechanism. There is no mandatory share. The obvious alternative would have been to be part of it, but to order responsibly, i.e. according to real needs. But maybe the prime minister wanted to be ambitious, to show that he is exhausting the 4.3% ceiling already in the first year?!... The European Commission has made available to us a flexible mechanism, in which each member state has the opportunity to make orders, in good conditions. The mechanism provided for a clear time period in which the order could be accepted or not. One more detail: an order once placed is firm and must be paid for.

European Court of Auditors: The European Commission has created the necessary mechanism to avoid oversupply

And what Alexandru Nazare said is consistent with what the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found in the special report 19/2022 regarding the purchase of anti-Covid vaccines by the European Commission. Thus, in the cited document, the ECA auditors point to point 55: "The Commission purchased vaccine doses on behalf of the member states through contracts. Therefore, the counterparties of the producers in terms of payment, order forms, receipt of vaccine doses, etc., are the Member States".

The next point in the report states: "The Commission has coordinated the postponement or acceleration of deliveries to some member states to avoid excessive supply or shortages. These activities, although not all formally part of the agreement concluded between the Commission and the Member States, supported the execution of contracts and the delivery vaccine doses".

In other words, the European Commission created the necessary mechanism to avoid excessive surpluses of anti-Covid vaccine doses, a mechanism that both the former Prime Minister Florin Cîţu and the Ministers of Health Vlad Voiculescu and Ioana Mihăilă did not take into account and unknowingly ordered the respective doses of vaccine that appear in the report of the DNA prosecutors.

Under these conditions, the allegations of Cătălin Drula, the president of the USR, who states that the file orchestrated by the DNA "is an obvious political attack, an aberrant judicial action", have no legal basis, especially if we take into account the text of the Court of Accounts report European.

Regarding the anti-Covid vaccine doses purchased by our country, Alexandru Rafila, the Minister of Health, said two days ago that Romania established contractual obligations of 80 million doses and took 35 million doses, worth 2.5 billion lei, of which 10 million doses have expired and have been destroyed or are in the process of being destroyed.

We remind you that regarding the purchase of anti-Covid 19 vaccines at the European level, there is a file which is being investigated in rem (ed. was opened in September 2022. The people who notified the European Public Prosecutor's Office regarding possible criminal acts regarding the purchase of vaccines accuse Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, of negotiating secretly, unilaterally, on WhatsApp, to the detriment of the member states EU, with Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, the contract regarding the respective vaccines.

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