Romania sues possible shell companies for ventilator hoax

The Romanian state has been struggling for months to retrieve about EUR 4 million representing advance payment for the acquisition of medical ventilators ordered from a South Korean and a Swiss company, reported the digi 24. news portal. The two firms had cashed in the money, but not a single one of the devices were delivered until this day. Furthermore, Romanian authorities can’t get a hold of the representatives of the vendors. According to governmental sources these are actually Chinese shell companies.

The state has initiated two civil lawsuits against the companies for breach of contract, reported digi24.ro. During the state of emergency which lasted from mid-March until May 16 the government had to procure a large number of mechanical ventilators for the hospitals designated for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Thus the Romanian General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (IGSU) has arranged several contracts for the purchase of medical ventilators with quite a few foreign companies.

One of the suppliers IGSU contracted was the so called Medi Consulting Korea, which should have delivered 400 ventilators until mid-June, and which was paid almost USD 2.4 million in advance.

As the Romanian Court of Auditors found out, a totally disadvantageous contract was negotiated. The products were not delivered, there were no delay penalties calculated, and IGSU accepted the force majeure clause the vendor invoked. As according to the agreement, the 400 ventilators should have been delivered in four lots, between April 17 and May8. Romania paid a 30 percent in advance for each lot. Nevertheless, there was no provision for a guarantee instrument issued by a banking or insurance company. Such an instrument could have guaranteed for the remaining 70 percent of the value of each contract, reported digi24.ro, with reference to the findings of the auditors.

From the Swiss company called GSC Consulting and Management AG a total of 250 ventilators were bought, with EUR 1.93 million advance payments. The devices were not delivered and the advance was not restituted. The supplier cannot be reached; no one answers the phone, or replies to emails and fax notifications.

Title image: Romanian COVID-hospitals were in a shortage of ventilators, the government arranged contracts with several foreign suppliers


Author: Éva Zay