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Bolsonaro to face inquiry over Covid vaccines deal


President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Picture by Andressa Anholete/Getty

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Picture by Andressa Anholete/Getty

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Picture by Andressa Anholete/Getty

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has authorised a criminal investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to allegations of potential corruption within his Health Ministry involving a vaccine deal.

Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber said the investigation is supported by recent testimony in a Senate committee investigating the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prosecutors will investigate whether Mr Bolsonaro committed the crime of “prevarication”, which entails delaying or refraining from action required as part of a public official’s duty for reasons of personal interest.

She did not rule out the possibility other potential wrongdoing could be investigated.

The inquiry comes after Luis Ricardo Miranda, the chief of the Health Ministry’s import division, said he faced undue pressure to sign off on the import of 20 million vaccines from Indian pharmaceutical Bharat Biotech.

He said there were irregularities in the invoices — particularly a $45m (€38m) upfront payment to a Singapore-based company.

Mr Miranda testified before the Senate committee on June 25  with his brother Luis.

They said they took their concerns directly to Mr Bolsonaro, who assured them he would report the irregularities to the Federal Police.

However, the Federal Police never received any request to investigate, a police source told The Associated Press. 

Secretary-general of the presidency Onyx Lorenzoni confirmed Mr Bolsonaro met the Mirandas, but said they presented fraudulent documents. He said Mr Bolsonaro ordered that they be investigated.

Bharat has denied any wrongdoing with respect to vaccine supply.

Mr Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of corruption, and told reporters he cannot know what transpires within his ministries.

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The crime carries a prison term of between three months and a year, plus a fine. © Associated Press

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