By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Usually, ‘one creeps before one walks.’ But, HDM Labs Inc. has been able to defy the odds. This company’s first business transaction was a $367M deal to supply drugs to the Government of Guyana.
Yesterday, Attorney-at-Law, Charles Ramson, revealed that according to its financial statements, HDM Labs never did any business ever since it was set up in 2012.
Ramson said, “This deal stinks of corruption.”
HDM Labs is owned solely by US-based Guyanese Hardatt Singh.
In June 2017, the Ministry of Public Health sole sourced $366.9M worth of ‘emergency’ drugs from HDM Labs. This was after other known suppliers, including Ansa McAL Trading Limited were disqualified by Ministry of Health officials for various reasons.
These companies bid hundreds of millions of dollars less than the sum Singh was handed. The highest bid was made by Ansa McAL —$190.6M. (See Chart)
HDM Labs was not one of the companies that bid for the contract.
But, on June 19, 2017, the Ministry wrote HDM Labs requesting that the company, which has no experience, submit quotations and availability for the supply and delivery of pharmaceuticals.
On that same day, Public Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Collette Adams, wrote the Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration (NPTAB) Berkley Wickham, seeking permission for the company to be allowed to sole source the required pharmaceuticals.
She told NPTAB that this became a requirement after the companies that bid for the supply failed to withstand a “restrictive tendering process” that is employed by the Ministry of Public Health.
The companies failed various requirements. Interestingly, one of the needed requirements was technical capacity. Companies needed to have carried out similar transactions before.
It is not clear how HDM passed this requirement. But from all indications, the evaluation that disqualified other companies was not applied to this company.
In her letter to NPTAB on June 19, Adams, the Permanent Secretary, vowed, “HDM LABS INC. HAS GREAT CAPACITY in delivering Supplies to the Ministry of Public Health’ within two weeks’ time frame.
“HDM LABS INC. IS A RECOGNIZED AND EFFICIENT SUPPLIER COUNTRYWIDE. HDM Labs has their pharmaceutical supplies registered with the Food & Drugs Department in the county (sic) of Guyana and also they are registered with Food & Drugs Authority located in the United States of America.”
Adams then wrote to Singh one day later, on June 20, 2017 informing him that he was awarded the contract.
Ramson said that he is at a loss trying to figure how Adams was able to make such declarations to NPTAB when according to HDM, in its financial statements, it never did any business.
The audit firm, HLD R. Seebarran & Co, does financial statements on behalf of HDM Labs.
On August 2, 2016, the audit company wrote the Deeds Registry, “We have been retained by the Directors of HDM Labs (GY) Inc. to prepare and audit financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2012; 2013; 2014 and 2015.
“The company was incorporated on April 10, 2012 and had no trading activity to date. This information was provided and confirmed by the Directors of the company.”
Yesterday Ramson said, “The records I was able to secure also clearly show that the company is in breach of the Company Act for failing to file annual returns for 2016 and 2017 as lawfully required.
It should have been struck off the company register already. (S.487 of the Companies Act)”
Ramson questioned, “How could a company, which is not even in compliance with the laws of Guyana (failing to file annual returns) and never did business before qualify to obtain a $367M sole sourced contract?”New
He continued, “How could a company get a contract for $367M when the other seasoned players, which were disqualified, bid $190M and below?”
Ramson said, “This is exactly the kind of practice that makes Guyana poor and keeps poor Guyanese from getting the assistance that they need. This kind of pariah activity by companies like this and people like Hardatt Singh needs to stop.”
Ramson said a criminal investigation needs to be conducted immediately and all persons involved need to be charged.
“If this is not done private criminal charges and civil proceedings need to be instituted to recover all that money. This is the money of the Guyanese people and no longer can we continue to be raped like this and expect our country to get better.”
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