Top of VWS favored deal with Sywert van Lienden, against experts’ wishes
The platform for investigative journalism Follow The Money reveals that Sywert van Lienden has been favored by the top of the Ministry of Health. The National Aids Consortium, established at the start of the corona crisis to combat the acute shortage of medical aids and protective equipment by allowing various organizations to jointly purchase and distribute them on a non-profit basis, advised against going into business with the talk show guest who suddenly emerged. as a mouth cap importer. The LCH considered Van Lienden and his partners “not a reliable party”, writes FTM. There were not only better offers, the mouth caps were actually no longer necessary because the stocks were now back up to standard.
That is why the LCH specifically advised the ministry not to do business with Van Lienden. The ministry nevertheless pushed through the deal, after which the consortium at the top of VWS formally protested against this decision twice, three directly involved sources independently confirm to Follow the Money. After questions, VWS confirms that the LCH gave a negative advice about the ‘numbers’. ‘VWS wanted the deal to go through given the size of this order and the uncertainty about sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment.’
Another reason not to want to do business with Van Lienden is that he demands that part of the stock must be offered via his own hastily set up webshop. The experts then suspected that the talk show guest was out to make money from the trade himself. That was not in line with LCH’s mission. This resulted in a conflict with Van Lienden that rose to such an extent that security personnel were called upon to remove him from the building.
Van Lienden then approaches the top of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and, according to FTM sources, has two talks with Minister Van Rijn. This is special because LCH had set up a special VIP counter to select offers from celebrities and other important people. There were 200 such offers out of a total of 23,000. Van Lienden tells Follow the Money that he even sat down with Van Rijn ‘much more often’ than twice. Van Rijn’s successor, Minister Tamara van Ark, does not mention this in her answers to the House of Representatives.
The media personality, who at that time was still working as a civil servant at the municipality of Amsterdam, eventually managed to get VWS to place an order with him for 40 million mouth caps.
The scope of the agreement is exceptional. Only two other deals of 100 million euros or more for personal protective equipment have been concluded, Van Ark reported to the House. But only one of those two – a deal of 131 million – involved face masks, in addition to examination gloves. This deal ran from May to March 2021. The other mega deal was all about insulation jackets, VWS reports to Follow the Money. (…) The objections within the LCH were so great that the consortium twice lodged a written protest with top official Mark Frequin, say those involved. The ministry ignored these objections and instructed healthcare company Mediq – part of the LCH – to carry out the deal with Van Lienden.
FTM describes in the detailed article that Minister Van Ark has given the House of Representatives an incomplete and in some respects incorrect picture of the deal. VWS says in a response that it is not familiar with the scenario that FTM outlines.