Van Lienden allegedly profited 30 million euros from 'non-profit' face mask deal
Lobbyist and political activist, Sywert van Lienden together two partners allegedly profited 30 million euros selling face masks in a deal which he claimed was non-profit, Follow the Money reported.
During the first wave of the coronavirus, Van Lienden had stocked up on protective gear early on. After an initial shipment from China, Van Lienden transferred his activities to the non-profit organization Stichting Hulproep Alliantie which he had founded together with two business partners.
The Ministry of Health was struggling to provide sufficient protective gear at the time. According to the Volkskrant, Van Lienden set up a private company called Relief Goods Alliance through which he was able to strike a deal with the Ministry of Health to deliver face masks.
The ministry has since said it is irrelevant that the contracts were made with a commercial party and not a non-profit organization, according to NOS. The ministry said only price, quality and quantity were of importance to them.
The three owners of Relief Goods Alliance allegedly took a margin of 30 percent during a period of three months. That is considerably more than the 15 to 20 percent that were in line with the market at the time.
Van Lienden has since come out and denied the allegations that he had sold the face masks for profit. He continued to maintain that his organization is non-profit. “There is zero gain in this”, he tweeted in May of last year. “I’m doing it for nothing and have put aside my work.”
According to Follow the Money, Van Lienden and his associates sold Ryzur’s KN-95 masks for 2.26 euros a piece to the Ministry of Health. At the time, various businesses valued these masks were worth 1.50 euros.
Van Lienden allegedly also sold FFP2 masks from the manufacturer Shandong Shengquan at 2.78 euros per mask while these valued at an "ultimate" maximum of 2.10 euros at the time.
It is estimated that the Ministry of Health paid an additional 13 million euros, according to the Volkskrant.
Through the sale of the Ryzur and FFP2 masks, Follow the Money said Van Lienden achieved a profit of 30 million euros.
Incidentally, the 40 million face masks never ended up in healthcare. They are currently still in storage because there is a surplus of protective equipment. Some of the face masks were initially rejected because they contained graphene which could be a health hazard. These face masks were later on declared again safe for use.