Opinion maker Sywert van Lienden released a statement about the mouth cap deal he concluded with the government last year. It does not explicitly address whether or not he has made a profit. De Volkskrant wrote this weekend that he must have earned on the deal, while pretending to the outside world as if everything was non-profit.
The statement, which he issued after a conversation with officials from the Ministry of VWS, states that the prices consisted of production costs “plus a post to deal with risks”. Whether he made a profit with his associates is not in it. Also in an explanation to DeccEit he says he can not say anything about this, according to his own words because of a duty of secrecy. How high the risk margin was, is not clear.
De Volkskrant reported on Saturday that Van Lienden, with two partners, probably made a lot of money on the import of the mouthcaps from China, while outwardly giving the impression that he made nothing from it. The deal, which involved 40 million mouthcaps, involved about 100 million euros.
BV established in consultation with VWS
During the first corona wave, Van Lienden founded the non-profit organisation Stichting Helptroops Alliantie (Stichting Helptroops Alliantie) together with two business friends. On 12 April 2020, the foundation offered the delivery of the mouthcaps to the Ministry of VWS.
According to the Volkskrant, it remained secret that he founded a BV for that import, together with the same business friends. In the statement Van Lienden writes today that the creation of this BV was done precisely in consultation with the Ministry.
The foundation had too little working capital to bear the risk to the deal. Similarly, the Ministrys National Consortium of Assistive Products (LCH) did not want to bear the risk “and asked the promoters to bear the entrepreneurial risk in China concerning production and quality”, states in the statement.
De Volkskrant quoted sources on Saturday at the Ministry, which say that the profit margin on the FFP2 and KN-95 masks must have been between 15 and 20 percent.
Last weekend Van Lienden responded very briefly to the article in the Volkskrant. He then said that there were all kinds of legal issues and that a confidentiality clause had been agreed with VWS. Today he consulted with the Ministry and came out with what he calls “a first statement”.
Not on the mat
A spokesman for VWS cannot communicate the content of the consultation, but calls it a good conversation. He emphasises that Van Lienden was not called to the point, but that the consultation took place precisely at his request. However, there were questions in the ministry following the article in the Volkskrant.
The spokesman points out that the demand for mouthcaps was very high at the time. “We wanted to get the delivery of mouthcaps as soon as possible that met the quality requirements at a good price. That was the case with this deal.”
Incidentally, the 40 million mouthcaps have never ended up in healthcare. They are still in storage because there is now a surplus of this type of protective equipment. Also, part was initially rejected, because it contains graphene that could be dangerous to health. Eventually the mouthcaps were allowed anyway.
Van Lienden writes in his statement that he wants to give more openness and investigates “what the possibilities are”.