Covid’s CPI hears this Tuesday (24) businessman Emanuel Catori, CEO of Belcher Pharmaceuticals. The company presented itself as a representative of the Chinese laboratory CanSino, manufacturer of the Convidecia vaccine, during negotiations with the Brazilian government.
On Monday (23), like other deponents who attended the CPI, Catori obtained from the Supreme Court the right not to answer questions that could incriminate him.
The businessman’s summons was another development of the investigation front on the role of intermediary companies in dealings with the Ministry of Health, one of the main lines of investigation of the CPI.
Senators see a similarity in the performance of Belcher with that of Need Medicines, which represented an Indian laboratory in the sale of the Covaxin vaccine and is under investigation by the Federal Police and the Public Ministry under suspicion of irregularities.
The CPI is also seeking to investigate whether there is a relationship between Belcher and businessmen in Pockets and with the leader of the government of Jair Bolsonaro in the Chamber, Deputy Ricardo Barros (PP-PR). The company is headquartered in Maringá, the parliamentarian’s political stronghold.
In addition to Covaxin, CPI will investigate negotiations for the Convidecia vaccine, by Chinese CanSino
In testimony to the CPI, Barros came out in defense of the immunizing agent and admitted knowing one of the partners, whose father acted in the administration of Barros when he was mayor of Maringá (read more below).
In June, the Ministry’s Secretary of Health Surveillance, Arnaldo Correia de Medeiros, signed a letter of intent to purchase 60 million Chinese immunizing doses. Belcher would act as intermediary for the sale. It was up to Emanuel Catori to participate in negotiations with the Brazilian government.
The CPI has already approved Catori’s breach of fiscal, banking, telephone and telematics confidentiality.
As provided in the letter of intent, the dose of Convidecia would cost US$ 17 – the dosage of the immunizing agent provides for a single application, the same as with the Janssen vaccine. The schedule determined vaccine deliveries for the third and fourth semester of this year.
See the video below an interview with senator Alessandro Vieira (Cidadania-SE), who is part of Covid’s CPI, about Cansino’s negotiations:
Vaccines do not have a component that favors accelerated negotiation, says Vieira about Cansino
The acquisition of Convidecia was not completed. Emphasizing Belcher’s involvement in investigations – the company was the target of the Falso Negativo operation, which investigates fraud in purchases of rapid tests -, the CanSino laboratory broke its contract with the Brazilian company shortly after signing the purchase intent letter and disallowed the Belcher acting on behalf of the manufacturer.
As a result, CanSino informed Anvisa that it was looking for a new partner in Brazil. The Brazilian agency, however, ended the temporary authorization process for emergency use of Convidecia due to Belcher’s loss of legitimacy.
In July, the Department of Health Surveillance sent an official letter to the CPI in which it informs that there was a “unilateral deal by the company” and reinforces the letter of intent is only “a starting point for future acquisitions and does not bind this agency in the purchase of these vaccines , since the acquisition will depend on the conditions to be presented in the negotiation”.
Relationship with Ricardo Barros
In this Tuesday’s hearing, senators will find out if Barros helped open the doors of the Ministry of Health for Belcher. In April, company representatives met with minister Marcelo Queiroga, at a meeting that was also attended by the government leader.
In testimony to the CPI, Barros denied that the acquisition of the Chinese vaccine was discussed at the meeting – according to him, the hearing aimed to address a drug being studied for the treatment of Covid-19.
To the senators, the government leader also admitted to being a “personal friend” of Francisco Feio Ribeiro Filho. He is the father of Daniel Feio Ribeiro, another partner at Belcher, and was director of Urbanização de Maringá when Barros was mayor of the city.
Barros also came out in defense of the immunizing agent, saying that it would be “advantageous” to Brazil, and then criticized the CPI’s performance, which generated a row and led to the closing of the session. See below:
Ricardo Barros attacks the CPI, senators revolt and testimony is suspended
Senators also want to understand if there is the role of businessmen in Pockets with Belcher. Carlos Wizard and Luciano Hang even participated in lives with Emanuel Catori to defend the sale of vaccines to the private sector.
The request to summon the Belcher partner was presented by senator Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP), vice president of the CPI.
“It is pointed out that the CPI needs to clarify the details of the negotiations for the sale of the Chinese vaccine Convidecia, from Cansino laboratory, through the intermediation of Belcher Pharmaceuticals, for which it is necessary to summon one of its partners, Mr. Emanuel Catori, which has already made online transmissions with Luciano Hang and Carlos Wizard to deal with the sale of the vaccine to Brazil”, says the senator in the application.