A Dutch company has been ordered by judges to repay the state €43 million after delivering substandard face masks for the medical profession at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
02 Health from Heerhugowaard, which specializes in filtration systems to improve air quality, agreed a deal with the health ministry in March 2020 to supply 18 million FFP2 masks at a fee of over €3 each – well above the market rate.
However, the company failed to meet delivery deadlines and spot checks on the masks that did arrive showed that they did not meet quality standards, court documents show. Some did not fit properly, others had filter issues and some were not CE certified.
The ministry tore up the contract in May 2020 and started legal action to recover the cash. Last month judges in Alkmaar found in the state’s favour but the verdict has only just been released.
The company, which is considering an appeal, told the AD on Thursday it will go bankrupt if forced to repay.
The ministry told the AD that O2 Health is the only company currently facing court action for failing to deliver face masks or delivering sub standard ones.
The most controversial face mask deal to date involves three young entrepreneurs who signed a €100 million deal with the government, pledging it was a non profit agreement. But that was not the case, and it later transpired the three, including former CDA party activist Sywert van Lieden made combined profit of €20 million on the deal.
In May 2021, the national audit office said the health ministry was unable to account for a €5bn spend during 2020. Some €1bn of the unjustified expenditure went on testing materials. In total, €1.2bn was spent on protection for healthcare workers and respirators for care homes while €2bn went on bonuses for medical staff.
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