THE European Public Prosecutor’s Office will investigate whether Spain’s Health Ministry grossly overpaid for Chinese disposable PPE gowns during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
500,000 disposable gowns were bought at 60 times above the market value from the Weihai Textile Group using EU funds given to Spain, while much cheaper local options were rejected.
Prosecutors Laura Pellon and Olga Muñoz will probe whether there was any prevarication and embezzlement of European funds.
The money came from Europe’s FEDER fund under an emergency contract instigated by the government.
The Partido Popular referred the matter to Spain’s Anti-Corruption prosecutor in April.
The European Prosecutors are looking into the ‘alleged irregularities in the award of a contract for a rate apparently much higher than the market price’.
The Chinese company charged €16.70 per PPE gown but two Spanish companies who did not win the contract offered prices of just €0.32 and €0.27 per gown.
The Health Ministry spent €10.1 million on the Chinese deal as opposed to either €139,000 or €163,000 on the Spanish options.
European Prosecutors also want to know why an additional €842,364 was spent on top of the €10.1 million sum on ‘fees, tariffs and another 10%’.
They say no documentary evidence to justify what the extra sum provided.
There’s also no reference made to the Weihai company in the final contract including its address, with a note that the contract winner ‘would be located in Spain’.