A Spanish businessman has been named in USA court documents, claiming he received over £21m of UK taxpayer cash for securing NHS PPE deals with China.
Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson acted as a go-between to strike deals over protective garments for NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BBC reports.
A legal dispute playing out in Miami courts shone light on the money companies have made supplying the NHS – legal papers described the deals as very ‘lucrative’.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, Florida-based jewellery designer Michael Saiger reportedly set up a business to supply PPE to governments.
His ‘experience’ of working with factories in China helped him land contracts for protective gloves and gowns, including to the UK’s NHS.
The documents show Saiger agreed to supply the PPE comprising 1,000,000 boxes of Titan nitrile gloves, for example.
Saiger then signed up Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson, to help with ‘procurement, logistics, due diligence, product sourcing and quality control’ of the PPE equipment.
Andersson was paid more than $28m (£21m) for his work on two government contracts to supply the NHS.
In June, Saiger signed three more agreements to supply the NHS with millions of gloves and surgical gowns – Andersson would have been in line for a further £15m in consulting fees.
Court documents allege that once the agreements had been signed, Andersson stopped doing any work for Mr Saiger, however.
This led to PPE deliveries being delayed to NHS frontline workers – according to the BBC – and the company ‘scrambling’ to fulfil the contracts by other means.
So far the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published contracts with Mr Saiger’s company, Saiger LLC, totalling more than £200m. These were awarded without being opened to competition.
Saiger LLC said in a statement: “At the height of the pandemic, and at a time when the NHS was in need of high-quality PPE that met the required safety standards, we delivered for Britain, on time and at value.
“At no time have we ever used any ‘middlemen’. We have few full-time staff so for large projects we bring in short-term contractors for additional expertise and capacity, allowing us to deliver what is needed.
“We are exceptionally proud to have played our part in providing frontline workers in the UK, including nurses, doctors and hospital staff, with the millions of pieces of PPE they need to stay safe and to save lives.”