WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland has received 24.6 million zlotys ($6.45 million) for ventilators it failed to receive at the start of the pandemic, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
When coronavirus surged across Europe in April 2020 and hospitals were desperate for ventilators, Poland’s government turned to a little known company called E&K, which is owned by Andrzej Izdebski who has been identified as an arms dealer.
The health ministry signed a deal worth 44.4 million euros for 1,241 ventilators and transferred around 35 million euros — nearly 80% of the total — to Izdebski’s company.
Izdebski, who had delivered 200 machines worth around 9 million euros, returned 14 million euros in advance payments after the deal was terminated. In November a court ordered E&K to return around 16 million euros to cover the remaining amount and fines.
“On Wednesday the Ministry of Health received 24.6 million zlotys…This amount is approximately half of the amount due that the contractor has to pay,” the ministry said in an e-mailed statement. It said a bailiff had secured 418 ventilators in a warehouse at Warsaw airport.
“The equipment will be priced by the bailiff and only then further decisions will be made.”
The ministry did not comment on the remaining around 20 million zlotys the court has ordered E&K to return.
Izdebski told Reuters he was not aware of any transfers made by the bailiff, who was not immediately available for comment.
($1 = 3.8123 zlotys)
($1 = 0.8364 euros)
(Reporting by Anna Koper; Editing by Mike Harrison)