The businessman who sold the HSE more than €3 million of unusable hand sanitiser during the Covid-19 pandemic made a profit of at least €1.4 million on the deal.
The HSE paid €3.3 million for the sanitiser that was unlawful to distribute on the Irish market, as reported by The Ditch in September 2021, and it had been put straight into storage on delivery.
It has now emerged that the sanitiser cost just €450,000 and that, when shipping costs had been taken into account and a third-party funder had been paid, the businessman stood to earn a minimum of €1.4 million.
The businessman, when seeking funding from the third party, wrote, “The HSE are desperate for stock.”
‘The HSE are desperate’
North Dublin-based Paul McGuinness, a businessman who had three companies struck off for failing to file accounts, in March 2020, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, entered into a contract with the HSE for the supply of hand sanitiser.
According to documents previously released to The Ditch under freedom of information, the deal involved the supply of 182,516 litres of Beaver hand sanitiser, manufactured in Guangzhou, China.
The sanitiser was never used.
Because the Department of Agriculture hadn’t registered it for use in Ireland, the HSE was forced to store it in a warehouse, where it had sat for at least 13 months as of September 2021.
After McGuinness had received the purchase order from the HSE, dated 27 March, 2020, he sought third-party funding to fulfil the order.
The HSE’s purchase order was for €3,297,447.12. The profit that McGuinness stood to make became clear in a previously unreported email to the third party.
McGuinness, who was offering a 10 percent return to the potential funder, wrote, “The cost between stock and shipping is roughly €1.7 million and this is the amount to be funded.”
McGuinness was paying a fraction for the sanitiser.
“The stock,” wrote McGuinness, “is costing €450,000 and the factory have agreed to accept 10/30 percent to place the order and produce the stock. When the stock is ready for shipping the balance is paid.”
McGuiness wrote that the HSE was satisfied with the sanitiser being provided. “The HSE have also been provided with the relevant documentation and are satisfied with Beaver as a company and their products.”
The HSE, in previous reporting by The Ditch, confirmed that the “risks” associated with this particular sanitiser had been discussed at a procurement meeting.
In McGuinness’s email seeking funding he assured any part funder that the HSE would pay the full sum due.
“I will also get a letter from the HSE to state under no circumstances will they return the stock that is delivered to them and that payment will be made in full as agreed,” he wrote.
The deal was ultimately part-financed by Crowley Cash Handling Solutions Ltd, which trades as iCashco and is directed by Martin Crowley, suggesting that Crowley took McGuinness up on his offer of funding the deal’s initial outlay.
McGuinness in his email had highlighted the need for urgency.
“As you know the HSE are desperate for stock and I need to act fast on this or I will lose this purchase order and future purchase orders from them,” he wrote.
McGuinness and Crowley declined to comment.