Sunday 20 June 2021

‘Not for profit’ face mask deal earned company bosses €20m

Sywert van Lienden in a still from a Hulptroepen.nl YouTube promo

Questions have been asked in parliament after it transpired the owners of a not for profit foundation set up to buy face masks in China earned a combined €20m on the deal.

Last year, the health ministry gave a €100m contract to buy face masks in China to the Stichting Hulptroepen Alliantie, launched by Amsterdam civil servant and tv pundit Sywert van Lienden, amid much media fanfare.

Van Lienden launched the project after government and hospital officials warned they were facing a major shortage of PPE. KLM and Coolblue were among the companies which threw their weight behind the foundation’s efforts.

However, the Volkskrant reported last month that the face masks were actually imported by a private company – Relief Goods Alliance – set up by Van Lienden and two associates just days after the foundation was formed.  This despite his assertions in the media that the project was not for profit.

Van Lienden has now confirmed to website Follow the Money that he actually earned over €9m on the deal, with his colleagues picking up more than €5m each.

Van Lienden says he intends to use the money, which has been placed in a financial construction commonly used to hide assets, to good causes ‘but that partly depends on the consequences of the media storm for my professional career’.

Meanwhile, the 40 million face masks which Relief Goods Alliance imported remain in a warehouse because they are both surplus to requirements and there are concerns about their safety.

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