A Government-supported charity, the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery (Barbados) Incorporated, has turned down Barbadian businessman Mark Maloney’s offer of resignation as a board director as one of his companies’ has started legal proceedings against an American firm to recoup millions of dollars apparently paid in an alleged vaccine procurement scam.
The COVID charity has indicated that while Maloney’s company, Radical Investments Limited has been dealing with the purchase of vaccines at a time when the charity is doing the same, Maloney has done nothing which requires him to step down as a director of the local charity.
In fact, the charity is adamant that the two companies are not working together with respect to any vaccine transaction.
Maloney, who recently lodged the suit in a Florida District Court, is claiming that Radical Investments Limited has been defrauded of millions intended to buy COVID-19 vaccines as part of a regional bulk-purchasing arrangement involving Barbados, St Lucia and Bahamas.
Radical Investments Limited is suing the Los Angeles-based Good Vibrations Entertainment LLC, the purported supplier of the vaccines and a number of other businesses and individuals involved in the original attempt to buy the vaccines. The order for the jabs was never fulfilled, leaving the plaintiff millions of dollars out-of-pocket.
Radical Investments claims in its court papers that it was deceived and lured into an elaborate scam to advance the sum of US$10.2 million for one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which never materialized.
But in a letter addressed to its donors and dated September 24, 2021, the privately-run Barbados COVID charity declared it has no links with Maloney’s company with regards to the procurement of the vaccines.
The correspondence, signed by Chairman Andrew Mallalieu, explained to the donors that the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery entity was reaching out to them as an assurance that contrary to what some people were claiming, there is no connection between Radical Investments Limited and the non-profit organisation.
Mallalieu indicated: “Out of an abundance of caution and to ensure that you our donors have the facts,” he stated, “we have never been approached by Radical Investments nor Mark Maloney to participate in this initiative.”
The chairman added: “We have never made any payments to Radical Investments Ltd. The only payment that we have made for vaccines was to the GAVI Alliance for access to the COVAX vaccines. This was on instructions from the Barbados Government via the Ministry of Health. The vaccinations through this facility have been delivered directly to the Ministry of Health.”
Mallalieu explained in the letter that all payments made by the charity for vaccines, testing equipment, oxygen generation machines and PPE have been requested and approved by the Barbados Government and paid directly to the suppliers.
“At present, there is only one outstanding item that has been paid for by the charity that has not yet been delivered, and that is a deposit paid in August of this year on a second oxygen generation machine needed to expand the primary care facility at Harrison Point,” he pointed out.
In defence of the charity’s financial reputation, Mallalieu informed the donors that earlier this year, the international accounting firm of BDO was engaged to provide a full audit report on the activities of the organisation.
“Such report will be provided as soon as it is available as communicated earlier this year,” he promised.
But while chairman Mallalieu could not be reached for comment, a source close to the charity disclosed that Maloney had declared his willingness to resign as a director of the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery body in light of the controversy swirling around his company.
“He is still part of the charity, but he has offered to resign if need be. But we don’t think it is appropriate. He is still a director of the charity. We don’t see anything inappropriate at the moment,” the well-placed source told Barbados TODAY.
The charity was incorporated on March 25, 2020 with its focus to reach out to Barbadians overseas as well as locally to help raise money.
In the early stages of its operations, chairman Mallalieu had told Barbados TODAY that the company was also established to provide financial assistance to persons in Barbados affected by the virus, reimburse the Government of Barbados for expenses directly associated with the COVID-19 virus and provide for the establishment and maintenance of hospitals, healthcare centres and generally to promote healthcare in Barbados.
Mallalieu, a noted real estate investor, said the company is also focused on raising money to buy medicines to treat those with the virus and purchase equipment to test for the disease.
However, he had assured the country and prospective donors that none of the money raised would go into the pockets of its directors or would be used for any other reason other than for the objectives outlined.
The other directors are businessmen Maloney (deputy chair); Sir Paul Altman and Queen’s Counsel Barry Gale.
Director of Finance and Economic Affairs (DFE) Ian Carrington was nominated by Prime Minister Mia Mottley to sit on the board.
Maloney was unavailable for comment on this latest development.