VG, one of Norway's two most influential newspapers, has investigated the sale of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine through a chain of intermediaries in Latin America and Africa. If the Russian Direct Investment Fund sells Sputnik at $ 10 per dose, its price doubles through intermediaries.
A plane from Dubai arrived in Ghana on March 3, 2021. On board - 16 thousand doses of the Russian vaccine "Sputnik", which were unloaded from the plane literally at the feet of the country's Minister of Health Kuaku Agimen-Manu. The game was conceived as a trial game. She argued that the sheikh and cousin of the ruler of Dubai, Ahmed Dalmuk, who accompanied the shipment, could indeed supply the vaccine. Only after that negotiations began. After 6 days, Ghana's Ministry of Health and the Sheikh signed an agreement to supply 3.4 million doses to the 30 millionth country. No cost-per-dose information was released.
One of the intermediaries, accused by the Norwegian authorities of money laundering, said in a private conversation on the eve of signing: "If I tell you how many people will make money on this deal, no one will believe me".
Wealthy countries buy vaccines in quantities several times the number of their citizens. Poor countries are at the tail of this line. WHO has long criticized this state of affairs, calling the situation a moral catastrophe. It increases the risk of new strains emerging, resulting in more human casualties and falling living standards around the world. Against the background of this vacuum, cunning people appeared who decided to make millions of dollars.
VG gained access to documents confirming how the intermediaries receive the Sputnik vaccine and resell it at a profit for themselves. The investigation was carried out in Russia, Ghana, Pakistan, Guayana and Iraq.
In Ghana, the first cases of covid appeared in March 2020. After a while, the Minister of Health, Agiemen-Manu, became infected, although he did not confess for a long time and confirmed that he was ill after the president of the country wished him a speedy recovery.
Ghana can get the vaccine in three ways: through the international Covax alliance, through the African Union, and through bilateral agreements with vaccine manufacturers or intermediaries. At the beginning of the year, a country with a population of 30 million was able to purchase only 1 million doses. The country's president has set a goal to vaccinate 20 million people by October 2021. It is clear that one million doses will not be enough to implement these plans. Therefore, the proposal of the Dubai sheikh came in handy.
The newspaper learned about the statements of the Norwegian businessman Per Morten Hansen to an anonymous source. Hansen admitted to being an intermediary and escorting a shipment of vaccines to Ghana. The businessman got access to Sputnik thanks to his acquaintance with the famous American actor Steven Seagal in the 90s. Hansen called the new Russian citizen a "Russian ambassador." According to the businessman, he spoke to Segal every week and put him in touch with a client. As a result, they sold 5 million doses, Hansen said. The newspaper provides an audio recording of the conversation (here).
The journalists contacted the businessman and asked to confirm the information. Hansen refused and threatened the newspaper with legal action. Stephen Segal's lawyer also denied any connection to his client with Ghana and the vaccine deal.
Hansen is prosecuted for money laundering in Norway and fraud in Belgium. The Norwegian tax authorities accuse him of concealing NOK 20 million, or $ 2.3 million. During his long career as a businessman, Hansen went through bankruptcy and the sale of videotapes bypassing customs. In the early 2000s, he emigrated to London and became friends with Russian oligarchs. In 2010, the 17-year-old son of Roman Abramovich, Arkady, negotiated with him the purchase of the FC Copenhagen football club. According to the Danish press, Per Morton Hansen acted as Abramovich's mediator at the beginning of the negotiations. In 2015, Hansen was planning a joint oil business with another Russian oligarch. In the same year, he was photographed in Belgrade with Steven Seagal, where the actor was awarded the Karic Brothers Prize. In his speech, Sigal spoke about the honor that the organizers showed him and presented the prize that Vladimir Putin and several others had received before him.
Hansen and Segal are photographed together during a joint trip to Norway.
In 2019, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmuk el Maktoum wrote a letter to Sigal and invited him to Dubai, journalists write, citing Kapital magazine. Sheikh Ahmed Dalmuk, 34, is a distant relative of the ruling sheikh. It is not known what his condition is, but while other sheikhs fly their own planes, he is forced to rent them.
Sheikh would like to discuss joint projects in Dubai. This is what happened, judging by the photographs that Hansen posted with Seagal in front of the sheikh's office. Another photograph shows Sigal with Pakistani Umar Farouk Zahoor, who belongs to the inner circle of the sheikh.
Sheikh and Farouk Zahoor already had contact with Ghana when they inflated turbines to that country in 2015. The Norwegian authorities have put the Pakistani on a wanted list in connection with a fraud case and the disappearance of 62 million from a wealthy widow's accounts in 2010. The Emirati authorities refuse to hand him over to Norway, so Farouk Zahoor continues to enjoy a beautiful life in the Middle East.
When the sheikh flew to Ghana to sell the Russian vaccine, the Pakistani was also part of his delegation. Despite the scandal surrounding the previous turbine deal, the ride went quietly.
Ghana's purchase of the vaccine also went unnoticed. Despite the fact that international contracts must be approved by the country's parliament, this did not happen. Large private clinics were also unaware of the purchase, although they always participate in budget discussions, such as when buying medicines for malaria or HIV.
Umar Farouk Zahoor declined to comment on the deal. The question of how much he earned from the sale of Sputnik remained unanswered. “Even if I made money, it was a good deal”, - he said. Then he stated that he had not earned a crown and had not signed any contracts.
The Minister of Health initially agreed to be interviewed by reporters, but later declined.
However, Ghana is not the only country to which the sheikh sold Sputnik. On November 19, 2020, his plane landed in one of the poorest countries in Latin America, Guayana. The goal is a vaccine deal. Guayana's vice-president, Barrat Jagdeo, said they bought the Russian vaccine at $ 20 per dose. “We tried to buy the vaccine in the USA and Europe and we couldn't do it. We tried through the Covax alliance but there was nothing there. But a company connected with the Prince of Dubai came to us,”, - said the vice president.
The sellers said that the vaccine stocks were small, but then the authorities were ready to buy it at any price. As a result, they bought 200 thousand doses. The vice president said that the seller was a company that had already signed contracts with African countries.
Russia sells Sputnik through the Direct Investment Fund. For these purposes, the Foundation opened HumanVaccine LLC in Russia. A deal with Slovakia and Hungary passed through it. The price per dose was $ 10.
Human Vaccine LLC opened Aurugulf Health Investment LLC in Dubai , which received the exclusive right to sell Sputnik vaccine in several countries in Africa and Asia. Nothing is known about the composition of shareholders. It is only known that Aurugulf Health Investment LLC entered into an agency agreement with a private company of the sheikh.
In Pakistan, the sheikh signed an agreement with a private company that acted as his agent on Sputnik. The Pakistani authorities demanded through the courts to disclose the financial terms of the deal, and it turned out that the Pakistanis paid the sheikh $ 45 for two doses, or $ 22.5 per dose. For Pakistani citizens, the vaccine price was even higher. Citizens in Lahore were paying $ 39 per dose, according to VG newspaper.
Pakistani deal documents show that one of the deputy directors of the Russian Direct Investment Fund signed trade permits for the Sheikh's Satellite and Aurugulf Health Investment LLC.
In Ghana, the Treasury Department confirmed to reporters that the African country paid the sheikh $ 19 per dose. Under the agreement, the sheikh must deliver 3.4 million doses to the country. His profit will thus amount to $ 250 million. So far, 300 thousand doses have been paid back.
Per Morten Nansen met with reporters and categorically denied any involvement in the deal. He stated that he knew nothing about her.
“If you have confirmation of my involvement in the sale, you can publish them, but I was not involved in anything”, - the businessman said.
After this meeting, attorney Elden wrote to the editorial office, who represents not only Hansen, but also Steven Seagal. According to him, his clients categorically deny their connection to the deal in Ghana. Pakistani Farouk Zahoor, after talking with reporters, retracted his words and said that he was represented by lawyer Elden. He also represents the interests of Hansen and Segal.
Reporters spoke with Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta. When asked whether it is right to pay $ 19 per dose, the minister said that when politicians need to protect 30 million people, they cannot deal only with the "good guys" of the West, who do not promise anything, but do whatever is necessary. According to him, the crisis with vaccines is man-made, there are enough of them, you just need to establish an honest and fair distribution.