A multi-million pound personal protective equipment (PPE) contract awarded by the UK government to a family-run investments firm has set off alarm bells. Reports Tom Coburg of ‘The Canary’
Recipients for similar contracts include a recruitment agency, a sweets manufacturer, and a business that specialises in pest control products. A Labour MP has raised questions about one of these contracts. And litigation against the government has commenced.
Meanwhile, The Canary has conducted its own investigation into these matters. And what has been highlighted so far may well be just the tip of the iceberg
Ayanda Capital Ltd (ACL), an investments firm that specialises in “currency trading, offshore property, and private equity and trade financing”, was awarded a contract by the UK government worth £252.5m to supply face masks. Yet their “business lines” suggest no history that this “London-based family office” produces or provides PPE. Although in its very prominent policy statement on modern slavery Ayanda does refers to supplies, but only in a general sense.
Ayanda is run by former Kleinwort Benson director Tim Horlick. It’s owned by the Horlick family via Milo Investments, a holding company registered in Mauritius. Ayanda senior board adviser Andrew Mills is also an adviser to the government’s board of trade (which is chaired by international trade secretary Liz Truss).
Horlick’s brother Richard is the non-executive director of BH Macro Ltd, an investment company registered in Guernsey. He’s also director of CCLA Fund Managers Ltd and chairman of CCLA Investment Management
CCLA Investment Management is under significant control by the CBF Church of England Investment Fund and the COIF Charities Investment Fund. As with many funds suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the CBF Church of England Investment Fund lost considerable ground in March 2020 but made a quick recovery in April. It was a similar story for the COIF Charities Investment Fund.
When asked if the Department was aware when it awarded the contract that ACL’s ultimate holding company is based in a tax haven and of Mr Mills’s role with the Board of Trade, a spokesperson said it does not comment on individual company business operations.
A recent question was raised in the House of Commons about Ayanda’s efficacy to produce PPE Clothing by Justin Madders what experience Ayanda Capital had in procuring personal protective equipment prior to the decision to include it in his Department’s supply
Jo Churchill of the Department of Health and Social Care answered on: 13 July 2020
“The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available”.
Other PPE contracts awarded:
The government awarded PPE contracts to a number of firms that also appeared to have no history of sourcing or providing PPE that’s suitable for the NHS. For example:
- Aventis Solutions, which was awarded an £18.5m contract to supply face masks. Aventis is an employment agency.
- Clandeboye Agencies Limited specialises in nut and coffee products, chocolate, and confectionary. It’s based in the north of Ireland and was awarded a £108m contract to provide PPE. It also trades as Crunchcraving. The Good Law Project and EveryDoctor are seeking a judicial review in regard to the contract.
- A £108m contract was also awarded to Crisp Websites Limited, trading as PestFix, a firm that specialises in pest control. The Good Law Project is suing the government regarding this contract and is seeking a judicial review. In an update, the government clarified that the PestFix award is actually £32m and covers isolation suits, though there are “a number of further contracts”.
Investigation source: The Canary.