loading...

18 November 2020 02:31

Chuck Grassley United States Senate Coronavirus

Businessman was paid £21m of taxpayer cash for securing NHS PPE

Court documents filed in Florida shine a light on the murky world of PPE procurement and show how one consultant made more than $50 million from PPE deals, including significant ones with the British government. The court case pitches Michael A Saiger, who runs a fashion empire from Miami against a business associate Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson, who according to the documents was to provide 'services' to facilitate the deal. The court documents detail Andersson was to provide "services to Saiger LLC, which includes 'sourcing the manufacturer, due diligence and coordinating logistics.'" But Saiger's lawyers contend that "Unfortunately, and unacceptably, Defendants' failure to perform under the contracts caused business interruptions that delayed the delivery of PPE to health care providers and first responders in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic." 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. A businessman who acted as a go-between supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS was paid $28million (£21million) in taxpayers' money, legal papers reveal. While coronavirus spread across the world, Florida based jewellery designer Michael Saiger started a business to supply protective medical garments to different Governments.

Using his experience working with Chinese factories, he secured a number of 'lucrative contracts' supplying gowns and gloves to the NHS, according to documents filed in a US court. Mr Saiger signed up a Spanish businessman Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson to help out with 'procurement, logistics, due diligence, product sourcing and quality control', even though deals with manufacturers had effectively already been done. In June, Mr Saiger signed three more deals to supply millions of gowns and gloves to the health service. The Department of Health has so far published £200million worth of contracts with Saiger's company, Saiger LLC, which were awarded without being opened to competition. But as the deals are challenged in the US courts, UK campaign group the Good Law Project has accused the ministers of not paying 'sufficient regards' to public money over the contract.

Saiger LLC said: '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. A Spanish businessman was "paid £21 million" by a US jeweller given millions of pounds of taxpayers money to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NHS, according to court documents. Papers filed in a legal battle in Florida allege £200 million of taxpayers' money was paid to a company that had no PPE to sell to the UK Government. Michael Saiger, a Miami-based jeweller, instead paid a Spanish businessman millions of dollars to find Chinese manufacturers of masks, gloves and gowns and then sold them on to the UK for a profit, it is alleged. Documents from a US court claim Mr Saiger successfully secured contracts with the Department of Health worth more than £200 million in March this year.

Mr Saiger says he then paid a business associate, Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson, £21 million to find manufacturers of PPE in China to fulfil the deals he had signed, effectively acting as a fixer. Court documents filed by Mr Saiger say Mr Andersson's role was to help with "procurement, logistics, due diligence, product sourcing and quality control". A Spanish businessman was paid more than $28m (£21m) in taxpayers' money to act as a middleman in the sale of personal protective equipment to the UK government by a Florida-based jewellery designer, according to a US court document. The document, filed in Miami, states that Gabriel González Andersson stood to earn a further $21.3m in consulting fees, also to be borne by UK taxpayers, for three more PPE contracts between the company Saiger and the government. According to the court document, by drawing on contacts in China, Saiger's new company "was able to secure a number of lucrative contracts with the government of the United Kingdom".

The US court case concerns a dispute between Saiger and Andersson relating to three further contracts agreed in June to supply millions of gloves and gowns to the UK, under which Andersson was to be paid an additional $21.3m in fees. Separately, in the UK, Good Law Project and EveryDoctor launched legal proceedings on Tuesday against the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) over the award of PPE contracts worth more than £250m in total to Saiger. One of the contracts, entered into on 4 June for £70.5m of gowns (of which $16m was due to go to Andersson according to the US document) was for the supply of 10.2m gowns, approximately the entire number of gowns used by NHS England for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, but was offered without any advertisement or competitive tender process, the claimants say. The government is facing legal action after awarding a £250m contract for personal protective equipment (PPE) to an American jewellery company with no experience producing healthcare equipment. The Good Law Project today filed legal proceedings against the government over its multimillion-pound deal with Saiger LLC to provide equipment such as gowns and face masks to the NHS.

The DHSC has awarded at least five other multi-million pound contracts to Saiger for the supply of PPE, totalling more than £250m. It comes after Miami-based jewellery designer Michael Saiger earlier this year set up his own business to supply PPE to governments around the world as the pandemic tightened its grip across health services. Saiger capitalised on his experience of working with factories in China to land what he described as "a number of lucrative contracts" supplying protective gloves and gowns to the NHS. Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson was recruited to help with "procurement, logistics, due diligence, product sourcing and quality control" of the PPE equipment, documents filed in a US court have revealed. The government has faced mounting pressure to reveal its process of awarding lucrative PPE contracts in the initial months of the pandemic, as the UK scrambled to find sufficient levels of protective equipment for the NHS. In June, City A.M. reported that the government awarded £108m to a pest control company with just 16 staff and zero experience in providing PPE. Saiger LLC said: "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.