The Anti-Corruption Commission (DKSK) confirmed reports from VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski that the Healthcare Ministry paid 7.8 million USD to a shell company for the purchase of vaccines. The attempt to use a company that is clearly unqualified for the job prompted the Chinese side to pull out of the deal for 200,000 vaccines, whose delivery was eventually delayed by two months, costing Macedonia greatly during the major spike in the epidemic.
Goran Trpenoski, a former SDSM appointee who was named to the DKSK commission, confirmed that the payment was made, but that the Zaev Government eventually decided to call off the deal as it was structured and asked for the money back on March 16th, three weeks after the expected delivery date. The Government then negotiated a direct contract with the Chinese producer Sinopharm.
VMRO-DPMNE alleges that the use of a shell company in the deal clearly indicates that top Government officials were trying to take a cut from the contract.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev today also confirmed that an attempt was made to make a deal through this shell company and urged the press to talk to his Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce for more details.
We talked to dozens of companies. We paid advance guarantees. Of course that this payment was returned, Zaev said.
He would not commit to declassifying the documents that would provide an insight into the negotiating process. Besides the structure of the deal and the attempt to use an unsuitable company of suspicious origin, another issue is the willingness of the Government to pay 65 USD per dose – which is seen as excessive.