In Brief

Spending watchdog launches PPE probe after Spanish middleman was paid £21m

Government under pressure over lack of transparency during pandemic response

The UK’s spending watchdog has launched an investigation after a Spanish businessman was paid £22m in taxpayer’s money for his role in procuring PPE for frontline NHS staff.

An “urgent investigation” into the contract has been opened by the National Audit Office (NAO) after Business Secretary Alok Sharma had insisted that the proper “checks were done”, the Daily Mail reports. 

Gabriel Gonzalez Andersson was hired by Florida-based jewellery designer Michael Saiger, who in the early days of the pandemic began supplying protective gloves and gowns to the NHS.

Andersson worked on “procurement, logistics, due diligence, product sourcing and quality control” for Saiger’s company, working as a “go-between” on deals for Saiger to provide PPE for the government, the BBC reports.

“Andersson was paid more than $28m (£21m) for his work on two government contracts”, and would have been in line for a further $20m (£15m) in consulting fees after Saiger signed “three more agreements to supply the NHS with millions of gloves and surgical gowns” in June, the broadcaster adds. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published contracts with Saiger’s company totalling more than £200m, however, details of the middleman’s payments only became public due to an ongoing US legal dispute between Saiger and Andersson.

The NAO investigation comes just a day after it was revealed that ministers had set up a secret VIP channel for government contracts during the pandemic, through which billions of pounds of money was paid out.

Suppliers with links to politicians were ten times more likely to be awarded roles through the fast-track scheme than those who applied through the DHSC, the watchdog said.

Recommended

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid
In Depth

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson

Why Boris Johnson clung on so long – and what finally made him resign
Boris Johnson makes his resignation speech outside 10 Downing Street
Talking point

Why Boris Johnson clung on so long – and what finally made him resign

How Boris Johnson lost the support of his party
Boris Johnson
Getting to grips with . . .

How Boris Johnson lost the support of his party

What will Boris Johnson do after leaving Downing Street?
Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street
Today’s big question

What will Boris Johnson do after leaving Downing Street?

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid
In Depth

The favourites to replace Boris Johnson

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

The Week Footer Banner