The temperature of Covid’s Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) did not rise or fall this Wednesday (4). The testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Marcelo Blanco, former advisor to Roberto Ferreira Dias, who was director of the Department of Logistics at the Ministry of Health, confirmed the thesis of some senators: the federal government gave space to people who did not have vaccines, while it made it difficult access to Instituto Butantan and Pfizer.
Both opposition and government senators question why and how figures such as Luiz Paulo Dominguetti and Cristiano Carvalho, who presented themselves as representatives of Davati Medical Supply, had space among the Ministry of Health’s servers, even though they had contradictions.
“There was no facility for them [para a Pfizer]. There was a facility for Dominguetti that Señor Blanco had never seen before. It was easy to go to a restaurant at night and the next day the Ministry of Health was open for him”, said the president of the CPI, Omar Aziz (PSD-AM).
“Colonel Blanco, we are appalled at the ease with which unqualified people entered the Ministry, unqualified in every way. And they were taken by Ministry people, they did not fall from the sky,” argued Aziz.
According to Blanco, conversations with Dominguetti began on February 9 this year, with the offer of 400 million doses of the vaccine from the British laboratory AstraZeneca.
At the time, Dominguetti informed that there was already a rapprochement with the Ministry of Health, through the Reverend Amilton Gomes de Paula, president of the National Secretariat for Humanitarian Affairs (Senah), but that he wanted help from Blanco to advance the negotiations.
At the end of the month, Colonel Marcelo Blanco took Dominguetti to Roberto Dias. The meeting would have taken place at Vasto restaurant, in Brasília Shopping, on February 25th, where Dias would have asked Dominguetti for a bribe of US$ 1 per dose of vaccine.
“It wasn’t a casual encounter, I knew Roberto Dias was at Vasto. Could I have been inconvenient? I may have been. But I didn’t see any harm”, said Blanco. He claims, however, that he has not witnessed any requests for bribes.
“He [Dominguetti] asked me the possibility of having an official agenda. When I found out that Roberto would be at Vasto, I suggested to him: ‘I’ll introduce you, you can order from your schedule’, and that’s how it was done.” The next day, Dominguetti got an official meeting at the Ministry of Health, with Roberto Dias.
On February 25, however, Dias no longer had any authority over the acquisition of vaccines, an activity that was already concentrated in the hands of Elcio Franco, since January 29 of this year, when a letter was published determining the change.
For Omar Aziz (PSD-AM), therefore, there was no reason for Marcelo Blanco to take Dominguetti to Roberto Dias. The colonel stated, however, that he did not know that the acquisition of immunization agents was restricted to the Executive Secretariat of the folder, even with a letter sent to the secretariats informing them of the concentration of shares.
Despite being responsible for Dominguetti’s access to the director of the Ministry of Health’s Logistics Department, Blanco also denies having built this bridge.
“I never helped in the preparation of documentation, I simply guided [Dominguetti] to use state resources. In the same way, I never accompanied a representative of any company”, deposed Blanco.
In 30 days, the colonel and Dominguetti exchanged 108 calls, 64 of which on the initiative of Colonel Blanco, as informed by senator Alessandro Vieira (Cidadania-SE). According to Blanco, all conversations were restricted to dealing with the private market.
Private vaccine market
Marcelo Blanco’s only objective, when approaching and maintaining contact with Dominguetti, in his words, was to analyze the possibility of offering vaccines to private groups. “I projected on it [Dominguetti] a commercial partner in the private sector”, said Blanco.
Even so, the talks took place even before there was a bill that provided for the purchase of immunizations by the private sector.
“On these dates [primeira e segunda semanas de fevereiro], there was not even the debate of the law. The first meeting on a bill on vaccines for the private market was on February 21st. The bill was only filed [na Câmara dos Deputados] on February 23”, said senator Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP), vice president of the CPI.
The proposal in question was the Conversion Bill n. 1/2021, presented by Deputy Pedro Westphalen (PP-RS), which was sanctioned by President Jair Bolsonaro (non-party) on March 10th. Recalling that the colonel was relieved of his commissioned function at the Ministry of Health, on January 15, and his company, Valorem Consultoria em Gestão Empresarial, was opened on February 22, registered as part of the financial education area.
Then, in March, after the president sanctioned the legislation on the acquisition of vaccines by the private sector, the company’s role changed to representing medicines. The change also took place after the meeting at Brasília Shopping.
Even without a law allowing the purchase of vaccines by the private sector, apparently, Blanco was not the only one interested in this market.
To the senators, he identified José Ricardo Santana, who also worked in the Ministry of Health’s Logistics Department, as the fourth person who was at the meeting at the Vasto restaurant, in Brasília Shopping, on February 25th. After he left the portfolio, Santana also became a businessman.
Randolfe Rodrigues also cited General Roberto Severo Ramos, who headed the Executive Secretariat of the General Secretariat of the Presidency (SGPR), now a consultant for the company VTCLog, which provides services to the Ministry of Health to store and distribute medicines, including vaccines.
“We have three characters: Severo leaves the General Secretariat and becomes a businessman, from VTCLog; you go out and become a businessman [Valorem Consultoria em Gestão Empresarial], and now José Ricardo Santana”, says Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP).
After Dominguetti’s business failed to move forward within the Ministry of Health, Blanco said he stopped talking to the Davati Medical Supply representative.
The Reverend Amilton Gomes de Paula said, on Tuesday (4), that he spoke with Herman Cardenas, owner of Davati Medical Supply, about the proposal of 400 million doses. He said that, at the time, the businessman guaranteed that he had the doses. In an interview with Fantastic, however, Cárdenas said only that he acted as a facilitator and that he did not have the vaccines.
In another contradiction, Dominghetti stated in his testimony to the CPI that he has no contractual relationship with Davati. “There was a gentlemen’s agreement, not least because I’m a civil servant and I can’t sign a contract,” said the military policeman.
The British laboratory AstraZeneca also reported that all negotiations are carried out directly “through agreements signed with governments and multilateral organizations around the world, including the Covax Facility, and it is not possible to make vaccines available to the private market or to municipal and state governments in the Brazil”.
He also denied having any contractual relationship with the Texas-based company Davati Medical Supply. AstraZeneca’s only contract with Brazil was made through the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), on September 8 and 9, 2020.
To the senators, Marcelo Blanco stated that he did not try to find out who Luiz Paulo Dominguetti and Cristiano Carvalho were before proceeding with the approaches.
Edition: Leandro Melito