Pfizer CEO was not arrested by the FBI, nor charged with fraud
CLAIM: The CEO of Pfizer was arrested Friday by FBI agents, charged with fraud and was being held in federal custody while awaiting a bail hearing.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has not been arrested by federal agents nor has he been charged with fraud. A spokesperson for the company told The Associated Press the allegations are false. Further, Bourla is not listed in federal or local inmate rosters and a search of federal court records did not turn up any fraud cases against him. Bourla has remained active on social media and has made multiple TV appearances over the past several days.
THE FACTS: A conservative blog published an inaccurate article Friday alleging the CEO of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer had been arrested at his home in a suburb of New York City and charged with fraud in connection with the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The article, published by The Conservative Beaver, erroneously stated that Bourla faced fraud charges “for his role in deceiving customers on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 ’vaccine.’” It also claimed Pfizer was “accused of falsifying data, and paying out large bribes.”
The site, which says it is based in Canada, did not provide any evidence for its claims and attributed some information to an unnamed FBI agent.
The Conservative Beaver did not respond to a request seeking evidence for its claims or any comment on the matter.
The article was widely shared on social media Friday and has continued to circulate among social media users who appear to believe it is true.
But Bourla has not been arrested, nor has he been charged with any federal crimes. Pfizer spokesperson Pamela Eisele wrote in an email to the AP that the article was “false news.”
Bourla made appearances on CNBC and CNN on Friday — the same day the article falsely claimed he was arrested — to discuss the company’s oral COVID-19 antiviral drug. He appeared again on CNBC Tuesday, and has continued to post on Twitter.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons database does not list Bourla as an inmate and he is not listed on the inmate roster for Westchester County, where the article claimed Bourla was arrested. There are also no results for Bourla involving fraud in a database of federal court records and criminal complaints.
The FBI told the AP that it did not have any information on the allegations. The agency did not comment further.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.