The Italian La Verita paper today published the letters sent by Macedonian Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce to the Chinese Sinopharm company, regarding the planned purchase of coronavirus vaccines. the letters show that Filipce wanted the purchase to be routed through a private company named Stabri International Services, set up in Hong Kong. According to La Verita, the decision to include a shell company sunk the deal and prompted Sinopharm to withdraw from the proposal, leaving Macedonia again without a prospective supplier of a meaningful quantity of vaccines.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev yesterday confirmed that a private company was introduced into the deal by the Macedonian side, but insisted that there was no wrong-doing on his part. Minister Filipce is notorious for his close ties to the pharma retail sector in Macedonia, as well as for his inexplicable personal wealth, and the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party has accused him of trying to use the vital vaccine procurement process to get a cut of the deal for himself and for Zaev.

Another interesting element in the letters is that Filipce agreed that all “user problems” that will arise from the use of the Chinese vaccines will be borne by Macedonia and not the producer.

Yesterday, La Verita reported that the company Filipce and Zaev tried to insert into the deal was quickly found by the Chinese side as not a reliable partner. It had the money needed to ensure the deal deposited in Deutsche Bank but simply did not have the track record for such a sensitive business deal.