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Fact Check-Neither Justin Trudeau nor the Trudeau Foundation have shares in Acuitas Therapeutics

Neither Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nor his family’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation have any shares in a Vancouver-based biotechnology company that produces a key component of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Prime Minister’s Office and two of the company’s founders told Reuters that a claim that they did, made during a podcast, is false.

Making the claim was Dr Robert Malone, a virologist and immunologist who has previously been fact-checked by Reuters (here), (here) and (here).

He suggested that Trudeau and his family’s charity own 40% of Acuitas Therapeutics, the company providing the lipid nanoparticle delivery system in Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine (here).

“There is, in Canada, quite a bit of speculation that Justin Trudeau and his family's foundation holds 40% of Acuitas,” Malone said during the broadcast. “Acuitas is the manufacturer of mechanic lipids that are used by Pfizer and the formulation technology. It’s privately held. So, there appears that there may be a major financial conflict of interest on the part of Mr Trudeau." The full ‘Tommy’s Podcast’ episode can be seen (here).

Asked how long he had “known” about the ownership issue, Dr Malone replied: “I have known that there was speculation that this might be the case. Remember, I know Pieter Cullis, the academic at the University of British Columbia that gave rise to Acuitas, that I’ve spoken to him over time, including over the last couple of years a couple of times, I’ve known him professionally for decades. He would not take my calls last night when I was seeking to verify this information about ownership so there are financial C.o.I. issues that are going to come to the fore; there are failure-to-disclose-risks issues that are going to come to the fore.”

Other versions of the clip can be found across multiple social media platforms, including on Twitter (here and here) where it has been retweeted more than 20,000 times, on Rumble (here) and on the Facebook profile of a Spanish-speaking account (here).

A similar claim made on Twitter (here), which has been retweeted more than 8,700 times, was also replied to by Randy Hillier, a Canadian politician who serves as a member of the Provincial Parliament in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Hillier wrote in response that Trudeau “profits directly from every jab you take” (here).

Those tweets have been shared on Facebook in various iterations (here), (here) and (here).

However, there is no truth to the claims, according to the Prime Minister’s Office and two of the founders of Acuitas Therapeutics.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) confirmed to Reuters that the claims were “not accurate” and said Public Office Holders must disclose information about financial interests to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner (CIEC), which is published publicly online.

Acuitas co-founder Dr. Thomas Madden told Reuters via email: “Neither Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nor the Trudeau Foundation have any shares in or connection to Acuitas Therapeutics”. Fellow co-founder Dr. Pieter Cullis, who was specifically mentioned in the podcast, echoed Madden’s statement, adding that there was “no foundation” for the claims.

After being granted access to the company’s registry, Reuters did not see Trudeau or the Trudeau Foundation among those who were listed as having shares in Acuitas. A search for Acuitas on the CIEC public registry brought no results (here), (here), (here), (here), (here) and (here).

A summary of Trudeau’s profile on the CIEC’s Public Registry can be seen (here).

The PMO added that Trudeau has no ties to the Trudeau Foundation. They pointed to a CBC News article (here), where the prime minister was reported as saying: “I have not been in any way associated formally, or informally, with Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation in many, many, years. I stepped down from any of my family-related responsibilities shortly after having gotten elected, in order to demonstrate that there is a tremendous separation there."

The Trudeau Foundation’s most recent annual report can be seen (here).

VERDICT

False. Claims that Justin Trudeau and the Trudeau Foundation own 40% of shares in Acuitas Therapeutics are baseless, according to the Prime Minister’s Office and two of the founders of Acuitas.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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