RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro’s reaction to charges of potential wrongdoing inside his Health Ministry regarding a vaccine sale has been allowed by a Supreme Court of Brazil.
Prosecutors will look into whether Bolsonaro committed the crime of “prevarication,” which involves delaying or refusing to take action that is needed as part of a public official’s duty for personal motives. Weber did not rule out the prospect of further investigation into any misconduct.
The investigation comes after the chairman of the Health Ministry’s import section, Luis Ricardo Miranda, said he was under undue duress when approving the purchase of 20 million vaccinations from Indian pharmaceutical Bharat Biotech. The invoices had inconsistencies, he claimed, citing a $45 million advance payment to a Singapore-based business as one example.
Miranda and his brother, Luis Miranda, a legislator who was formerly associated with Bolsonaro, testified before the Senate committee on June 25. The Mirandas said they approached Bolsonaro with their concerns, and he told them that he would report the anomalies to the Federal Police.
According to a Federal Police source familiar with the investigations, the Federal Police never received any requests to investigate. Due to a lack of authorization to talk publicly, he spoke anonymously.
Bharat has denied any impropriety in vaccination distribution. Bolsonaro has denied any involvement or knowledge of corruption, telling reporters on June 28 that he has no way of knowing what goes on in his departments.
The Supreme Court’s decision to open an investigation was prompted by a request from three senators. According to the Associated Press, a majority of senators on the investigative committee earlier stated that after their investigation is over, they will vote to recommend Bolsonaro be charged with prevarication.
The offense entails a sentence of three months to a year in jail, as well as a monetary punishment.