Fmr. Health Min. denies involvement in dodgy face mask deal
Former Public Health Minister Hugo de Jonge denies being involved in the controversial face mask deal brokered by fellow CDA member Sywert van Lienden, NU.nl reports. Earlier on Wednesday, the Volkskrant reported that a text message from De Jonge gave Van Lienden an in at the Ministry of Public Health.
Text messages released by the Ministry of Finance showed that then-still Health Minister De Jonge urged a senior official at his Ministry to contact Van Lienden because he could supply face masks, De Volkskrant reported. That while De Jonge was not responsible for purchasing protective equipment.
The deal with Van Lienden turned controversial when it turned out that he made a hefty profit from it, while it was portrayed to be a non-profit initiative to help out at a time when there was a face mask shortage.
De Jonge always said that he had no involvement in the deal. And that was not a lie, he stressed on Wednesday, according to NU.nl. When asked, he would not explain which part of the Volkskrant article was incorrect, citing the ongoing investigation into the deal. "That investigation will clarify how it went," De Jonge said.
In July last year, De Jonge said that he had forwarded messages from Van Lienden to Martin van Rijn, who was responsible for purchasing protective gear.