Days before the clever commissioners of the Malaysian company Leno, Luis Medina and Alberto Luceño, contacted the Madrid City Council to offer to bring medical supplies, a Galician company signed four contracts with the town hall for the provision of masks.
Sibucu 360 SL It was the first to do business with the town hallon March 20, 2020. In total, 408,375 euros (VAT included) for 125,000 surgical masks and 100,000 FFP2 masks, as verified Public.
But at the dawn of the pandemic, not all procedures were correct. On four of the models of the FPP2 masks distributed by Sibucu As many other health alerts were decreed due to risk to people’s health. According to the company, there were 80,000 masks alerted out of a total of 80 million that it has imported in these two years.
The alert jumped from the Galician Health Service (Sergas) of the Xunta in May 2020. The CE seal that the masks bore was not legal, since they had been certified by an Italian laboratory that was not qualified to do so. The identity of the person who facilitated the contact of this company from A Coruña with the Madrid City Council is still a mystery that the council is not willing to reveal; having refused to answer the question to that effect Public.
The company was not engaged in the distribution of medical devices, but in “technical engineering services and other activities related to technical advice”.
One of the administrators of Sibucu, Diego Mata, in conversation with this newspaper, explains that in those initial days of the pandemic, in March 2020, he received a call from someone from the Madrid City Council, but now he does not remember his name. “My phone back then circulated everywhere, I remember that the maximum price that we sold the FFP2 was 2.5 or 2.72 euros per unit [Luceño y Medina las vendieron a 6 euros]. It was shown that we were reasonable with the price and we had a whole team in Asia, with all our experience”, he indicates to explain the success of the company in the distribution of masks.
According to the version of the Sibucu administrator, the calls rained down on them in those days from the autonomous communities and municipalities of half of Spain that were desperately seeking to obtain masks for their toilets, and in fact, the company has contracted with several communities, even with the Government of Spain. But one of his commercials at that time has confirmed to this medium that they also looked for the business and that both he and other colleagues dedicated themselves to contacting companies and public organizations to propose the supply of material.
At the time when Sibucu began to import masks from China, behind the company, through a corporate conglomerate, was the businessman from Compostela Jose Ramon Garcia Gonzalez, founder of the Galician technology Blusens, in turn, very well related to the Xunta. A well-known entrepreneur in Galicia and by the former president Alberto Nunez Feijoo, whom he has accompanied in institutional acts as a notable Galician businessman. This has happened on several occasions at the galas of the Association of Galician Entrepreneurs of Catalonia, for example, where the founder of Blusens shared a table with the late Rosalía Mera, co-founder of Zara.
A controversial businessman
José Ramón García González is an entrepreneur from Santiago who became popular both for his first business successes and for the legal controversies that they raised. In fact, he was sentenced four years ago to nine months in prison and a fine of 615,372.75 euros as the author of two continuous crimes of tax fraud and false documentation.
Just a few months ago, a court in Santiago ordered the opening oral trial against him for an alleged crime against intellectual property. The prosecutor asks for a year in prison and 2.4 million in patrimonial responsibility him and several of the companies in which he participates or participated.
He is accused along with eight other people of manufacturing and marketing a pirate decoder that allowed access to several paid content platforms. This medium has tried unsuccessfully to contact García González through Moonoff SLa company owned by Sibucu and which had García González as an investment partner until recently.
From Sibucu 360 SL they disassociate themselves from Jose Ramon Garcia Gonzalez, although the commercial registry indicates that the company continues to own 30% of the shares of Magna Tecnology Sl, managed by Visualiza Business, the holding company owned by García González. He himself told the Galician press in April 2020 that he had already brought 35 million masks from China to Spain through his companies. “He no longer has anything to do with us,” they point out from Sibucu.
2.5 million from the Community of Madrid
Not only the Madrid City Council, but also the Government of Isabel Diaz Ayuso hired this company in the first months of the pandemic. According to the Portal of Transparency of the Community of Madrid, there were eight contracts processed by the emergency procedure awarded to Sibucu, mostly by the Ministry of Family, Youth and Social Policy. The Health Department also contracted the purchase of surgical masks and FFP2 for the hospitals of La Paz and Ramón y Cajal. Total, 2,432,630 euros has been disbursed by the Madrid Government to this company.
Both from the City Council and from the Community of Madrid they have refused to answer the questions of this newspaper about the irregularities detected in some of the batches of masks. According to Diego Mata, from Sibucu, these batches did not reach any public administration, but only pharmacies in Galicia and Madrid.
1.5 million from the Xunta de Galicia
In the first months of the health emergency, between March 25 and June 26, Sergas bought Sibucu 2.3 million masks -2 million of the surgical type and 300,000 of the FFP2 type- for a total of 1,945,000 euros. The purchases were made through four files processed by the emergency procedureas it appears in an internal document of the General Directorate of Economic Resources to which it has had access Public.
Shortly after the arrival of the first shipments from Sibucu, Sergas detected that four batches of FFP2 masks were validated by an Italian company, ENS Certificazione Macchine SRL, which was not authorized to certify them. Even so, Sibucu distributed them under the seal of CE marking that guarantees the adequacy of the conditions of certain products to the community legislation.
The Galician Institute of Consumption and Competition (IGCC) activated its first alert on May 18 and sent letters to Sibucu clients advising them to return the material or certify its destruction. Even so, the Xunta continued to distribute it, and even made public that one of the companies linked to Sibucu and through which it operated Garcia GonzalezMoonoff, had donated another 100,000 units to Sergas – as many as the ones he had given away for free Inditex-, and that the Government of Feijóo planned to distribute between health personnel and municipalities.
Public has asked the Xunta to assess why did not immobilize the masks that he had bought from Sibucu when he detected that they had an illegal seal, but Sergas sources limited themselves to saying that “after reviewing the orders (…) none of the models purchased (…) is affected by the alerts from the Galician Institute of Consumption”. It seems unlikely that this is the case, taking into account that Sergas processed four files and that the Galician Consumer Institute warned that there were precisely four corresponding to lots with illegal stamps.
Sergas has also not given explanations as to why none of the Sibucu purchase files appear on the Galician Public Contracts Platform. For its part, the IGCC has ensured that a sanctioning file on July 21, 2020, for an amount of 10,500 euros, “for selling without complying with the documentation”, but which reduced the sanction because Sibucu withdrew them from the market. According to company sources, the penalty was reduced to 600 euros.
However, Sibucu 360 denies that the affected batch reached the Xunta: “Sibucu informed the Xunta’s Consumer Agency of the detected error and it proceeded accordingly to launch the alert in the usual mechanisms. We proceeded to withdraw it for new labeling since the masks met all quality requirements, and in no case did they present a danger to users.
The company insists on its innocence. “He was a lab fraud and I don’t know to what extent we shouldn’t have held Europe accountable, not here, for allowing that Italian laboratory to publish that it had the scope to make that certificate when it didn’t,” explains Diego Mata.
Despite the fact that the sentence that sentenced him to one year in prison in 2017 expressly vetoed José Ramón García González access to public aid between February 2017 and May 2019the Xunta de Feijóo granted in 2018 to Moonoff through its Ministry of Emprego two subsidies worth 84,000 euros to improve the professional qualification of its workers.
Shortly after the judicial veto period ended, the same Ministry granted him in November 2019 another aid of 3,000 euros for the hiring of an employee; and the Galician Institute for Economic Promotion (Igape), another in December of 31,360 euros to encourage foreign promotion actions.