MADRID (AFP) - Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur hit back at allegations he is being investigated over the purchase of false Covid-19 passes, insisting on Thursday (Feb 17): “I have a completely valid, accurate and true vaccination record.”
Spanish police sources told AFP on Thursday that the 23-year-old, as well as other athletes and public figures, featured on a list of alleged buyers.
“We can confirm the name,” police said.
De Minaur, ranked 32nd in the world, played in the Australian Open last month, where vaccination was compulsory, leading to the deportation of world number one Novak Djokovic over his coronavirus vaccination status.
“I received my first dose of the vaccine in London last summer, and the second one at the Hospital La Paz in Madrid,” De Minaur wrote on Instagram.
“News came out today that the hospital is under investigation for providing falsified covid certificates to some of its patients.
“I want to make it 100% clear that I received my second shot, that I have a completely valid, accurate and true vaccination record.
“I am not ‘under investigation’ in any way as is being suggested and my name is connected to this story simply because I was a patient at the hospital (as many thousands of others were).”
Police this week closed the second phase of “Operation Jenner”, opened in January into the Spanish branch of an organisation providing false Covid-19 and PCR passes through messaging applications.
The investigation found that the leaders of this group were based in France, police said.
In total, 11 people have been arrested, accused of “forgery and the use of forged documents” and a further 2,200 investigated for having obtained the Covid-19 passes fraudulently.
The network offered fake PCR results for around 50 euros (S$76) and false Covid-19 passes for 200 euros, with wealthier clients charged up to 1,000 euros for documents stating they were fully vaccinated.
According to Spanish police, the group would have been aided by someone working in the health services with the investigation also probing the possible theft of access codes.
Payments for the false documents were made using cryptocurrencies “through accounts opened in third countries”.
Once the payment was received, the clients obtained a code in which the fraudulent vaccination schedule was recorded.
Two days later they could obtain their Covid-19 pass in which two or three vaccine doses were recorded as having been received.
The police investigation is still under way with the final phase focusing on the arrest of the ringleaders of the organisation.