Bulgarian prosecutors charge outgoing Health Minister Moskov over vaccine exchange

Bulgarian prosecutors charge outgoing Health Minister Moskov over vaccine exchange
By Dimitar Koychev in Sofia November 22, 2016

The Sofia city prosecutor’s office has pressed charges against outgoing Health Minister Petar Moskov and his deputy Adam Persenski in connection to the exchange of vaccines between Bulgaria and Turkey, a notice on the website of the prosecutor’s office said on November 21.

The deals on exchanging the vaccines were signed by the now outgoing cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who announced he would step down earlier this month. Investigators will also interrogate all ministers on November 22, the prosecutor’s office spokesperson said as quoted by Dnevnik daily.

In 2015, Bulgaria supplied 5mn BCG vaccines against tuberculosis to Turkey. In return, Turkey provided 100,000 doses of Pentaxim, a combination vaccine for infants, as well as 100,000 doses of the hepatitis B vaccine Euvax.

However, in accepting the vaccines from Turkey, Moskov did not comply with the legal procedures for issuing an authorisation from the state drug agency, the prosecutors said.

This has led to pecuniary damages for the health ministry equal to BGN323,062 (€165,179) in VAT paid for the accepted vaccines, but also to other damages concerning the ministry’s reputation and distrust among citizens about children's vaccinations.

Another damage is the production cost of the 5mn BCG vaccines, which totalled BGN413,370. The vaccines were made by a state-owned company, and Moskov had its manager sign a donation agreement, thus making the company bear the cost.

Moskov rejects any wrongdoing and claims that the BCG vaccines would have cost less than BGN400,000 had they been sold. At the same time, the outgoing health minister alleges that the vaccines Bulgaria received from Turkey were worth more than BGN4mn.

Another charge against Moskov alleges that in a separate case he failed to exercise sufficient control over the manager of the state-owned vaccines producer, which resulted in a loss of BGN110,303, equal to the production cost of a batch of vaccines that were made in a violation of the regulations and will be destroyed.

On November 14, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov submitted to the parliament the resignation of the government he leads. The move came after the second round of the presidential election was won by the candidate supported by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The parliament accepted the cabinet's resignation on November 16.