ABC Four Corners exposes billion dollar health procurement cloud

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Aspen Medical lacked large-scale procurement experience despite securing PPE deals with the Australian Government Department of Health worth more than $1.1 billion.

ABC’s Four Corners on Monday 2 May 2022 claimed Canberra-based Aspen Medical won taxpayer-funded contracts without a public tender.

These contracts had propelled the company’s pre-tax profits to more than $420 million after collective losses of $7 million over 2018 and 2019, ABC claimed. 

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The probe claims the deal with health was worth $500 million more than any other government supplier, including those with a background in the industry.

The investigation, in collaboration with Colombo’s Sunday Times, has unearthed an alleged international corruption and money laundering cloud looming over Aspen Medical. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt has distanced himself from involvement in any purchasing recommendations, assessments, approvals, contract negotiations or decisions.

Mr Hunt highlighted positive findings by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), on the pricing of the equipment.

Former Health Department secretary Stephen Duckett told ABC “it is extraordinarily unusual” that Mr Hunt penned an undated letter of endorsement for Aspen Medical not addressed to a specific person.  

In a statement, Aspen Medical said it had been selected by numerous State and Federal Australian governments as well as many international governments and companies, to provide critical emergency and remote location medical and health services.

“Aspen Medical is the only company in the world to be certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an Emergency Medical Team for infectious disease outbreaks and trauma surgical operations,” the statement said.

The company said it had requested and received a Commonwealth letter of support for Australian export in health services to other international Governments.

“Letters of support were obtained from both the Australian Defence Export Office (DEO) and the Federal Department of Health in early 2020. These letters were only used for international export and not for any Australian Department of Health contracts,” the statement said.

 

 

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