Responding to the bombshell revelations that the Macedonian Healthcare Ministry used a shell company in Hong Kong in its failed attempt to buy Chinese coronavirus vaccines, VMRO-DPMNE officials accused Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Minister Venko Filipce of concocting the scheme with the goal of taking a cut of the payment.

The reason why they didn’t approach the manufacturer directly but used a phantom intermediary company was used is clear. Their greed is costing us lives, said VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski.

He also pointed to the fact that the company that was being used, Starbi International, was first set up in 2017, just several months after the Zaev Government was formed. The company was reportedly examined by Chinese authorities, who determined that it does not fit the profile of a company that should be allowed to trade with coronavirus vaccines. As a result, the Chinese manufacturer paid back the advance that was given by Macedonia for the purchase. This means that the country is likely going to face a prolonged lack of vaccines – the expected delivery of 200,000 Chinese vaccines was supposed to be the first meaningful delivery of vaccines from any side. The attempt to purchase Pfizer vaccines reportedly failed in similar fashion, after Minister Filipce demanded that intermediaries are used between the Ministry and Pfizer.