Police have raided the home of a Tory peer as part of an investigation into government contracts worth £203 million awarded to PPE Medpro.
Baroness Michelle Mone is believed to have been at the London home when officers from the National Crime Agency arrived to search for documents and evidence relating to PPE Medpro, a company set up a business associate of Mone.
NCA officers raided homes and office buildings in London and on the Isle of Man, where Mone and her husband own a £25 million estate.
Mone, 50, has denied any links to PPE Medpro, which is registered in the Isle of Man and was set up in May 2020, just two months after the UK’s first lockdown. A few weeks after the company was founded, PPE Medpro was awarded an £80.5 million contract by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in May to supply face masks.
£122m for unusable PPE Medpro gowns
In June 2020, PPE Medpro won a £122 million DHSC contract to supply 25 million sterile surgical gowns. These were later rejected after checks found the gowns unusable. The government said it is attempting to recoup the money through a resolution process. PPE Medpro maintains it met the terms of the contract and is entitled to keep the £122 million.
Isle of Man police confirmed that search warrants were executed at four addresses on the island on Wednesday, including the Knox House offices where PPE Medpro is registered and the mansion where Mone lives with her husband Douglas Barrowman.
Police are believed to have seized documents and electronic devices including computers and phones from the office building, No arrests were made.
Mone’s £11 million London mansion in Belgravia – reported by the Mirror to be “owned by an offshore company linked to her husband’s Isle of Man business” – was also raided.
NCA raid will raise questions over £12bn PPE contracts
The Guardian states the NCA investigation “is likely to resurface questions about the wider £12bn in PPE contracts the government awarded during the pandemic under emergency rules that bypassed normal competitive tender processes.”
PPE Medpro was one of 51 companies recommended for government Covid contracts by political connected associates that were fast-tracked through a “VIP lane”. PPE Medpro won government contracts worth more than £200 million after Mone referred the company to the Cabinet Office via the “VIP lane”.
In January it was revealed Mone was referred to the House of Lords Commissioners for Standards after the Guardian reported “that leaked files appeared to suggest Mone and [her husband] Barrowman were secretly involved in the PPE Medpro business.”
Mone denied having any role with the company and Labour peer George Faulkes said the baroness had failed to fully disclose her business interest in PPE Medpro. Mone, the Herald reports, “is being investigated under several sections of the Lords’ code of conduct, including a section saying peers ‘must never accept or agree to accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence’.”
Isle of Man – offshore tax haven for super-rich
KMI Consultants – who provide their clients “with the opportunity to maximize their tax free investment opportunities” – say no other “tax favoured” area in the world “can rival the significant advantages provided by the Isle of Man as an offshore money centre.”
The island, KMI states, is “independent of and not subject to laws passed” by the UK in “matters of direct taxation and fiscal affairs”. And, “there is no obligation to bring its tax system into line with those of the European Community Members.”
The Tax Times calls the island “a tax haven for the super-rich” and in 2018 the European Commission called on the UK government to clamp down on the “abusive tax practises in the Isle of Man”.