QUESTIONS have been raised over the Government of the Balearic Islands’ decision to grant over €8.2 million to entrepreneurs with offshore companies in tax havens in order to purchase medical supplies from China.
An investigation carried out by El Mundo has revealed that the Balearic government handed over the significant sum to two businessmen with companies registered in Panama and Malta.
The autonomous government first awarded over €4.5 million to Tyrval Import y Export SL, which is based in Valencia and specialises in the acquisition of goods for leading hotel chains across Spain.
From this company, the Balearic government received five million surgical masks, 60,000 FFP2 protection masks, 100,000 FPP3 masks, six million nitrile gloves and 2,000 thermometers – all of which was purchased from China.
However, according to El Mundo, Tyrval Import y Export SL is administered by a businessman named Jorge Manuel Tomas Romero who currently has an active company in Panama called Jardines y Estructuras SA.
When questioned about his ties to Panama, Romero allegedly admitted to owning the company but stressed that it was ‘inactive’ and established 18 years ago with the intention to develop business in South America.
Secondly, the Balearic government granted over €3.7 million to Soluciones de Gestion y Apoyo a Empresas SL.
This company is managed by Jose Angel Escorial who, according to El Mundo, has two businesses registered in Malta named Delta Advisory and Management Services Limited and Arce Investment Consulting Limited.
It is claimed that Escorial acquired the COVID-19 supplies through brokers in Hong Kong, receiving a profit margin of approximately 50 cents per mask.
In the wake of the revelations, opposition parties have demanded an explanation from the President of the Balearic Islands and PSOE member Francina Armengol.
The move to grant the funds to these two businessmen follows Armengol’s controversial decision to hand over €6 million to former PSOE member Jose Maria Lafuente.
In this case, the money was used to purchase medical supplies from China, including 40,000 face masks, which were found to be defective.
The Balearic Islands were not the only region in Spain to be stung by the purchase of faulty medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis.
In April, 1,100 frontline health workers were forced into self-isolation after Spain’s Ministry of Health distributed thousands of ‘unusable’ face masks in Andalucia, Murcia, Madrid, the Comunitat Valenciana, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Aragon, Galicia and Navarra.
In leaked documents obtained by El Mundo, the order was shown to be worth a whopping €17.1 million.