A Texas-based company implicated in allegations that members of President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration attempted to extort a $1-per-dose bribe on Chinese coronavirus vaccine purchases told Breitbart News in a statement Thursday it is “not aware” of the claims.
Davati Medical Supply, through a communications intermediary, added that it “does not have an employment relationship” with Luiz Paulo Dominguetti Pereira, who accused a Ministry of Health official of soliciting the bribe.
Dominguetti told the left-wing newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that Davati was negotiating on behalf of AstraZeneca and that, in pursuit of a contract, he went to dinner with the Ministry of Health’s Director of Logistics Roberto Ferreira Dias on February 25. On that date, over the meal, Dominguetti said that Dias demanded a bribe of $1 per vaccine purchased. The two were allegedly negotiating the purchase of 400 million vaccines.
Opposition politicians in Brazil have begun to pursue the allegation as a potential way to impeach Bolsonaro, rendering the true nature of Davati, any proof that the extortion occurred, and evidence of who was involved pivotal to the 2022 Brazilian presidential election.
Dominguetti testified before a special Brazilian Congress panel convened to investigate the accusations on Thursday, reiterating his claim that former Health Ministry Director of Logistics Roberto Ferreira Dias had solicited the bribe during a dinner conversation about potentially purchasing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines. The Bolsonaro administration rapidly dismissed Dias from his job after the accusations first surfaced, and has insisted it has not acted in any illicit way in purchasing coronavirus vaccines.
Dominguetti’s testimony also implicated a lawmaker, Luis Miranda, with audio of a negotiation allegedly between the two to buy vaccines. Miranda denied any wrongdoing and claimed the conversation was about buying personal protective equipment (PPE), not vaccines.
Davati claims to be a Texas-based corporation specializing in the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE); it remains unclear at press time how or if it ever had access to coronavirus vaccines. It is also facing accusations of fraud in Canada over an alleged attempt to sell vaccines to an indigenous nation there that AstraZeneca distanced itself from.
AstraZeneca issued a statement following the Folha exposé asserting that it has never used intermediaries to negotiate deals with the Brazilian government. AstraZeneca has repeatedly denied having a relationship with Davati Medical Supply. Terça Livre, a conservative Brazilian news outlet, noted that AstraZeneca itself had sent raw vaccine ingredients to Brazil before the alleged meeting between Dias and Dominguetti occurred, appearing to indicate that Davati’s operations were independent of cooperation between the Bolsonaro government and AstraZeneca.
Asked for clarification, Davati confirmed through a spokesperson that it was acting independently of AstraZeneca.
“Davati acted of its own free will in offering doses of Astrazenica’s [sic] vaccine,” the spokesperson said.
“Davati Medical Supply clarifies that its representative in the country, Christiano Alberto Carvalho, informed the company about the need for Brazil to acquire vaccines to combat Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus],” the spokesperson told Breitbart News. “From there, the company located a distributor who claimed to have a production allocation of approximately 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca®️ vaccine.”
Davati then took its “own initiative” to solicit the Brazilian government, which the spokesperson called a “normal trading procedure.”
Curiously, Davati distanced itself from Dominguetti in remarks to Breitbart News.
“About Mr. Luiz Paulo Dominguetti Pereira, it is worth reiterating that he does not have an employment relationship with Davati, acting as an independent salesperson,” the company representative said. “In this case, he only intermediated the company’s negotiation with the government, introducing Mr. Roberto Dias. About the complaint reported by Dominguetti, that the Ministry of Health would have requested a ‘commission’ for the acquisition of vaccines, Davati says it is not aware.”
Carvalho, the person Davati identified as its official representative, appeared in email threads regarding vaccine purchases alongside Dias and Dominguetti, according to Folha. Davati’s representative reiterated to Breitbart News that Carvalho is “the only accredited representative of Davati in Brazil.”
The Brazilian government did not continue to pursue a deal with Carvalho, Davati asserted.
Davati had encountered suspicion earlier in the year in Canada. There, the company reportedly reached out to at least one indigenous nation claiming to have access to AstraZeneca vaccines and claiming to be representing the company. AstraZeneca said in a statement in March that Davati’s offer was “probably not legitimate.”
The Davati representative did not comment on the Canadian allegations in its response to Breitbart News.
In another bizarre incident, the conservative Brazilian outlet Terça Livre highlighted an investigation by Brazilian reporter Lucas Ragazzi in which, in an attempt to investigate Davati in May, Ragazzi reached out to the company claiming to be a local official from the fictional Brazilian town of “Juatuba do Norte” and seeking to buy vaccines. Ragazzi became interested in Davati after reports that municipalities in Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s largest states, were being bombarded with offers from suspect intermediary companies to sell them coronavirus vaccines.
The response from Davati to Ragazzi was that the process of buying vaccines was “simple” – just sign a “Letter of Intent” to purchase – and that Davati was currently in possession of AstraZeneca doses “that were even made in Johnson’s laboratory.” In a subsequent email, a Davati representative claimed to be selling vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson in conjunction with the University of Oxford, a product that does not exist (Oxford helped develop the AstraZeneca vaccine). While the technology behind the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and that of Johnson & Johnson is similar, the companies are rivals and do not work together, nor do they manufacture in the same facilities.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) challenged Davati Medical Supply in March 2021 over claims on the site allegedly stating “that it operated in its industry for more than 22 years and that it had a partnered with a long-standing pharmaceutical manufacturer that was established in 1961 [sic].”
“These claims were challenged after BBB found Texas Secretary of State records indicating the company was established in 2013 and could not find any information regarding any partnerships or relationships it had with pharmaceutical companies,” the Bureau noted.
Davati’s profile on the BBB website lists Herman Cardenas as the main contact for the business. Folha identified “Herman Cardenas” as the CEO of Davati in its Wednesday report and claimed he was among those in the email thread the newspaper had access to.