EXCLUSIVE Pfizergate: The European Public Prosecutor's Office, accused of exceeding its powers

George Marinescu
English Section / 19 aprilie

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Versiunea în limba română

The takeover by the EPPO of the criminal file from the Court of Liege took place before the hearing of the involved parties Xavier Azalbert: "Sources from the Prosecutor's Office of Liege claim that it is a matter of political interference, intended to prevent the investigating judge from Belgium to carry out preliminary investigations" Frederic Baldan: "The EPPO's attempt to intervene alongside the investigating judge is contrary to the legal framework established by the European Union treaties which are the only legal basis for the regulation of "consolidated cooperation with a view to the creation of a European Prosecutor's Office""

The takeover by the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) of the criminal file opened against Ursula von der Leyen by the Public Prosecutor's Office attached to the Court of Liege is nothing more than a smoke screen, by which it is desired to remove this file from public attention during the electoral campaign at the level of the European Parliament and the European Parliament elections, as well as the negotiations regarding the reinstatement of von der Leyen as president of the European Commission, claim, for Ziarul Bursa, Belgian lobbyist Frederic Baldan and journalist Xavier Azalbert, president of the Bon Sens Association, which also filed a criminal complaint against the head of the Community Executive.

The two state that as long as the criminal investigation in the Qatargate file (ed. - corruption case at the level of the European Parliament, related to the allocation of European funds to third countries), was not taken over from the Belgian prosecutors by the European Public Prosecutor's Office led by Laura Codruţa Kovesi, although that case contains serious elements of corruption at European level, the EPPO's takeover of the criminal investigation in a case concerning the procurement of Covid vaccines in which von der Leyen is accused, among other things, of usurpation of functions and titles, destruction of documents and corruption, is evidence that they want to remain silent about Pfizergate, until Ursula becomes president of the European Commission again.

Frederic Baldan sent us:

"The case was not taken over by the EPPO, because it is the task of the National Chamber in Belgium to allocate competences, no

the EPPO task. Therefore, the information published in the mass media following data sent from the European Public Prosecutor's Office has no legal meaning.

From my point of view, the EPPO's attempt to intervene in addition to the investigating judge is contrary to the legal framework established by the European Union treaties which are the only legal basis of the regulation of "enhanced cooperation with a view to the creation of a European Public Prosecutor's Office". Unfortunately, an important part of the European mass media seems not to know what the EPPO is, what regulation it has, what the PIF directive provides and the limits of the action of the European Public Prosecutor's Office. I believe that the situation described by the press, according to which the EPPO would have taken over the criminal file drawn up following my complaint, violates the provisions of the Belgian Constitution".

Xavier Azalbert states: "An expert in European law told me: "If the EPPO takes over the case, Frederic Baldan and the other plaintiffs will no longer be able to be parties and victims in the process, because taking over the file means that the only victim would be the EU. This would mean that the EPPO would prevent any complaints from victims». (...) Asked if the EPPO is interested in Qatargate, EPPO spokesperson Tine Hollevoet said: «The Qatargate investigation is being carried out by the Belgian federal prosecutor's office, with whom we are in regular contact. It is not our role to comment on their ongoing investigation». So why is the EPPO interested in the investigation into Ursula von der Leyen (regarding the procurement of anti-Covid 19 vaccines) to the point where it is trying to monopolize jurisdiction, now that there is a Belgian investigating judge tasked with investigation of the criminal complaint (ed. - filed by Frederic Baldan)? What can justify a difference in consideration between the two cases? I raised this question with the EPPO, who replied that they had no further information to share regarding the ongoing judicial investigation into the EU's purchase of vaccines. That complaint refers, among other things, to the alleged destruction of SMS messages (ed. - that Ursula von der Leyen had with Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, before the conclusion of the contract for the purchase of anti-Covid 19 vaccines) , as well as forgery, and our various sources have clearly stated that there was pressure from the EPPO to have the investigating judge Frederic Frenay removed from this investigation. The prosecutor of Liège, Frederic Demonceau, has not yet responded to our requests regarding the EPPO taking over the case. Basically, through the response received from the EPPO, that institution confirms that there is indeed an ongoing investigation into the purchase of vaccines by the EU, but does not mention the SMS messages that are the subject of repeated requests to clarify the role of the different parties in the negotiation and which would enlighten the European citizens".

Criminal file taken over by the EPPO before the hearing of the parties by the investigating judge in Belgium

The journalist also points out that the investigative judge in Belgium told France-Soir that he was not competent to answer the questions submitted and that he was in charge of copying the file prepared by the prosecutor in Liege to send it to Mrs. Jennifer Vanderputten, prosecutor delegated to the European Public Prosecutor's Office, institution to which he sends the people from the cited publication to find out more answers.

France-Soir also addressed Ms. Prosecutor Vanderputten, who replied that she had forwarded the address to Tine Hollevoet, spokesperson for the European Public Prosecutor's Office. The latter replied: "The investigation into the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines in the European Union is still ongoing and covered by the secrecy of the investigation in order to preserve evidence useful for proving the truth. We are therefore unable to provide you with further details at this stage. As soon as we are able to communicate publicly about this investigation, we will pass the information on through our regular communications with the media."

Xavier Azalbert also says: "A person close to the case informed us before the European Public Prosecutor's Office took over the file that the EPPO could obstruct the procedure so that the investigating judge could not carry out his investigation. In practice, the EPPO gives itself jurisdiction through a criminal procedure before the investigation of the file by the preliminary chamber in Liege to prevent the investigation started by judge Frederic Frenay. The source also told us: "The parties are to be heard soon and that's why certain interested parties want to make sure that the investigating judge will no longer deal with this file".

And things happened later exactly as the source quoted by France-Soir said.

Baldan and Azalbert: EPPO exceeds its prerogatives in the Baldan-Von der Leyen complaint

Frederic Baldan and Xavier Azalbert argue that the EPPO is overstepping its mandate by taking over the criminal file drawn up following the complaint made by the Belgian lobbyist, as that complaint must be dealt with under national criminal law. They also point out that the autonomy of the national criminal law is protected by several investigating judges in France and Belgium, who, upon the establishment of the EPPO, criticized the fact that they lose part of the powers conferred by the criminal codes and criminal procedure codes of the respective states. The loss of powers occurs with regard to the EPPO's jurisdiction that extends to crimes affecting the financial interests of the European Union, the famous PIF directive.

Frederic Baldan points out that in the criminal complaint he indicated crimes contained in the criminal code of Belgium and not crimes provided for in the PIF directives. That is why he considers it surprising that the EPPO intervened to take over the criminal investigation from the Court of Liege, since the European Public Prosecutor's Office has no jurisdiction over the destruction of documents or SMS messages, this alleged crime not being a financial one. Regarding this aspect, Xavier Azalbert notes that the source who alerted him to the EPPO's obstruction of the investigating judge in Belgium told him that "this issue of jurisdiction should not occur in normal times, but there is now a real and serious political interference".

Mr. Azalbert also points out: "Our informant from the Belgian prosecutor's office also told us: "This complaint contains very serious elements and in normal times the investigating judge should have made good progress in this story and with regard to the measures taken, but the judge Frederic Frenay was prevented from acting». The cases before the investigating judge would therefore be passed over in silence, because they would cause disruptions in the re-election campaign, reason enough for a «political intervention» at the EPPO to prevent the investigation by judge Frederic Frenay".

The situation is complex because the complaint against President Ursula Von der Leyen is supported by at least 10 complainants (among them are Hungary and Poland, with the mention that the latter state announced through the voice of Prime Minister Donald Tusk that it will soon withdraw its support).

"Continuing to support the candidacy of Ursula Von der Leyen, as Macron and Renew do, also constitutes a possible complicity in the obstruction of this investigation, at least a political obstacle, which clearly demonstrates that Mr. Baldan was right to take the matter to the Belgian court, from the fear of seeing Ursula Von der Leyen trying to bury the investigation", claims Xavier Azalbert.

European Commission: The messages exchanged by von der Leyen with Bourla are private

We show that in an interview given a year ago (April 14, 2023) for France-Soir, Frederic Baldan reveals several aspects: "What is interesting is if Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen, who has a work phone and a work email, decided that as part of the correspondence carried on WhatsApp, by e-mail or SMS for the purchase of these vaccines to be unavailable or carried on a private phone. I wonder where the independence of the president of the European Commission is still, as long as part of his activity was carried out on his private phone and not on his work phone, if those negotiations are still legitimate as long as they are conducted privately, especially since it was explained to us that it was a private discussion to finalize the purchase."

In the same interview, Diane Protat, lawyer at the Paris bar and representative of the Bon Sens Association in the criminal complaint filed against Ursula von der Leyen, stated: "The European Commission refused to provide these SMS messages under the pretext that they were of a private nature and they were not related to professional or business discussions. But these SMS exchanges would reveal a personal relationship (ed. - between von der Leyen and Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO) that would therefore make the subject a serious conflict of interest in this matter. We asked the Commission to make this data available to us and once again the phone disappeared. We see there, the same modus operandi. Imagine that Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen used the private phone for this exchange of messages, a phone that we will never find. The use of the private phone in this matter was clearly done in order to hide the messages in question."

The two also show that Ursula von der Leyen received an important award in September 2022 from the foundation led by Melinda Gates for her work during the pandemic. In the letter of thanks, the president of the European Commission talks about the transparent mechanism that led to the joint procurement of vaccines. Baldan and Protat wonder what kind of transparency we are talking about, as long as the messages between Ursula von der Leyen and Albert Bourla in the period preceding the conclusion of the purchase agreement with the Pfizer company cannot be found anywhere, being classified or "lost" by the president of the European Commission. That is why the two consider the resignation of the president of the European Commission necessary to prevent any interference in the ongoing legal cases.

Baldan - lobbying activity suspended by the European Commission, Pfizer remains with its accreditation intact

France-Soir also shows that if we Google Ursula Gate, several sites, from FNAC to Eyrolles and Amazon announce the appearance of a book: "UrsulaGate: Revelations from an insider on the power of lobbyists at the European Commission Paperback - May 2, 2024".

Scheduled for publication on 2 May 2024, five weeks before the European elections on 9 June 2024, Frederic Baldan's book could become the best-seller of the year and play an important role in the citizens' vote cast in the European elections on 9 June 2024.

We mention that for the purchase of anti-Covid 19 vaccines from the Pfizer company, the European Commission, with the agreement of President Ursula von der Leyen, offered 44 billion euros out of the total of 71 billion euros allocated for the purchase of anti-Covid vaccines from several companies at the level European.

We also point out that, following the scandal caused by the criminal complaint against Ursula von der Leyen, the accreditation of Frederic Baldan as a lobbyist with the European Commission and the European Parliament was suspended, receiving an e-mail to this effect from the Secretariat of the Transparency Register of EU, an institution that has no organizational chart and no postal address. The Secretariat of the Transparency Register, however, requested the suspended Frederic Baldan to delete from his declaration of activity, which is public, the mention of the complaint against Mrs. von der Leyen, as well as the references regarding his meetings with European deputies. During this time, Frederic Baldan states that the accreditation of Pfizer and CEO Albert Bourla for lobbying the European Parliament and the European Commission remained valid, even though the pharmaceutical manufacturer was convicted of corruption abroad.

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