Substandard protective equipment for COVID-19 is being sold in over a dozen countries, using misleading certificates produced by businesses in the heart of Europe.
Undercover reporters from OCCRP and RISE Romania found a trade run by dealers with ties to organized crime, enabled by shady paperwork and made profitable by unscrupulous buyers.
Drugs keep flowing despite the global pandemic.
For several days in late March, North Macedonian citizen Rodzer Zekirovski had all the symptoms of COVID-19: a high fever, aching muscles, and a dry cough. But he couldn’t manage to get a lab test at a state hospital.
A Romanian national healthcare supplier bought a million masks of questionable quality from a convicted organized crime associate with political ties.
A Slovenian businessman with investments in gambling — and no background in healthcare — managed in just one day to secure a lucrative contract for millions of dollars in coronavirus protection equipment. It’s unclear what that equipment even is.
Kyrgyzstan has collected hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the coronavirus pandemic. But how that money is being spent remains a mystery — and even a government ministry seems perplexed.
Editor Lina Attala lost her breath when she saw the article. It appeared on a pro-government website and claimed that her independent outlet had to close down because she contracted the novel coronavirus by “hanging out with foreigners” and her sister.
Japan’s government has been criticized for its slow and inadequate response to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Japanese organized crime, meanwhile, has moved to take advantage of the crisis.
In a crisis, there’s no time for bureaucracy. But the special expedited procedures now being used by European governments to buy medical supplies have raised serious transparency concerns — and dodgy purchases are already multiplying.