The Madrid City Council was suspicious of the masks from the beginning: "They seem flimsy and tear easily"

The Madrid City Council was suspicious of the masks from the beginning: "They seem flimsy and tear easily"

The judge of case masks It has opened a new front the Madrid City Council and the businessmen Luis Medina and Alberto Luceño. The magistrate has launched a series of proceedings aimed at discovering whether the fraud in the sale of medical supplies was not limited at the inflated price and commissions, but the quality of the material that arrived from China was also part of the deception. This Friday, Mario Tabasco, head of the Madrid Salud occupational risk prevention service, will testify to explain an email he sent on April 13, 2020. An email in which he denounced "serious problems" with the certificates of the masks, which seemed "fairly flimsy" and that they tore "relatively easily".

The email, to which has had access and which is part of the summary, was sent by Tabasco from its corporate account on Monday, April 13, to two senior officials of Madrid Salud, one day after the masks arrived: the manager Antonio Prieto and the deputy director of the prevention department, Rosa Cuenca. In it, he refers to the KN95 masks that the City Council bought through Medina and Luceño and states that the certificate they carried had "two serious problems."

One of them was that it did not identify the number of the notification body, in addition to not having "type examination or production" certificates. Tabasco also warned that the body that issued that certificate for the masks was Ente Certificacione Machinne, which at that time was already under suspicion. "The body that issues the certificate is ECM, which, as I told you on another occasion, there is an alert from the Ministry of Labor indicating that they are INVALID certificates," he said. The mask itself, he said, did not have "any notation or certification." He appreciated that "they seem quite flimsy and tear relatively easily."

It is an email that has caught the attention of the judge in the mask case. So much so that in the car in which he summons to testify to the head of occupational risk prevention he alludes to the email. He is called, according to the letter, "in order to be questioned about the content of his email dated 04/13/2020 at 1:17 p.m., sent to Antonio Prieto." The high official of Madrid Salud will have to explain, therefore, what was found when he analyzed the masks that the City Council had bought in China through Medina and Luceño without knowing that, in addition, they were pocketing millionaire commissions from the municipal coffers.

That email was forwarded several times and arrived in the inbox of Elena Collado, municipal purchasing manager who acted as an interlocutor for months with the commission agents. "They are supposed to be FFP2 but the official certificates that guarantee it do not appear," the manager of Madrid Salud told Elena Collado. She finally brought everything to the attention of Alberto Luceño and the businessman answered, visibly upset. "The fact that they are flimsy and tearable, I better not comment," he said after stating that the KN95 masks were comparable to an FFP2 and that all the documentation was in order.

Tabasco will have to explain what the doubts that it left in writing in that email consisted of as soon as it opened the boxes of masks purchased from the Malaysian company Leno. The summary also includes what they translated into these initial reluctance to the quality of the masks: the council took a while to put the masks into circulation due to doubts about their certificates, their quality and their use. A day later Elena Collado exchanged messages on WhatsApp with Luceño: "We need confirmation that they are valid for medical use. At the moment SAMUR will not use them until they are analyzed," the purchasing manager told her.

In those messages, Collado and Luceño negotiated the shipment of 50,000 donated masks to the Puerta de Hierro Hospital, where the commission agent's wife worked. And the municipal budget coordinator expressed her objections to taking masks of dubious quality to a hospital center in the middle of the first wave: "Taking them to the hospital can be dangerous for health personnel, it may be more prudent to wait a bit. It's prudence, I'm sorry" . Luceño showed her surprise and defended that "in China they are the ones used by the Government, everyone classifies them as FFP2".

You will also have to declare the author of a police report that it is part of the cause and that, finally, it endorses the quality of the Luceño and Medina masks, although it criticizes the fact that they did not carry enough information on their use. "This product meets the legal requirements to be considered as class FFP2 for the purposes of personal protective equipment." The report launched a criticism: "The instructions for use should be translated into Spanish."

Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida called Luis Medina at the end of March to thank him for the management and for having managed to bring a million masks to Madrid with the international market turned into a pitched battle. A few days before, he had endorsed the two businessmen before the Chinese administration to facilitate the operation. And on April 2, a week and a half before the masks arrived in Madrid, the mayor once again thanked them for their role in buying masks, this time by letter.

The alert about the masks and their certificates came ten days after that letter of thanks. Half a month later, in May 2020, the mayor abandoned the conciliatory profile with which he had presented himself in the first months of the pandemic and launched an attack against the central executive, this time for the return of a shipment of defective tests that the Government had bought in China.

He said it in an interview on the YouTube channel Estado de Alarma, on May 2, 2020. "Each decision influences saving lives, we have to be especially careful and that is what has not happened in this government," Almeida said while his administration was trying to find out if the million masks they had bought at a premium were worth it or not. "One of the main responsibilities that will be required of the Government is how it is possible that it was not able to buy reliable tests and had to return them, the worst of all is that it does not even have the courage to say to the Spanish 'I'm sorry, We made a mistake,'" criticized the Madrid councilman. By then the Madrid City Council already knew that the gloves they had bought in China were not of sufficient quality and were much more expensive than those sold in Spanish supermarkets.

The judge in the mask case has focused the last battery of proceedings on elucidating whether, in addition to hiding commissions in the overprice, the material that Medina and Luceño brought in exchange for several million euros was also defective. The purchase of masks is the only one that, for now, has not been classified as a scam also due to the quality of the material, as has happened with the gloves and with the tests.

In the case of gloves, Elena Collado was very clear when he discovered that they did not reach the elbow and that they were very expensive. "They have scammed us for sure," he told Luceño, who patched up the operation by redistributing his commissions so that the City Council would recover the money. The Prosecutor's Office, in his complaint, also alluded to this poor quality of the gloves. Something similar happened with the tests that the council bought: 60% of them had insufficient sensitivity and new reagents had to be ordered.

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