The German army has ordered protective clothing from Bulgaria for hundreds of thousands of euros, which is of poor quality, but about which Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have personally spoken to then-Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
This is what SPIEGEL magazine says in an investigation indicating how the company Venera Style from Haskovo received an offer for such products, although until then it only made clothing. At the beginning of the pandemic, however, Venus offered to deliver two-layer masks – 85% cotton, 15% elastane – to Germany in the spring of 2020.
The publication comes months after the start of a massive scandal over the supply of substandard masks, which accused Merkel’s allies of corruption and put her party – the Christian Democrats – at a disadvantage on the eve of the parliamentary elections.
This is presented as remarkable at a time when Bulgaria needs them as much as Germany and has even imposed an export ban.
“Then why is Bulgaria sending masks to Germany?” The publication asks. And second, this business enjoys the highest level of support, such as that of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karenbauer and others, such as the chair of the Armed Forces Procurement Service. Kramp-Karenbauer is even preparing his personal assistant to board a plane to take samples from Sofia.
The Bundeswehr makes quick purchases, although the goods are questionable, as is their quality. “Letters received from SPIEGEL mention political reasons several times.” Protective suits are also sent to the Bundeswehr’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons protection department.
“Commands from above”
Here SPIEGEL draws attention to the direction of commands “from above” – ”not Bulgarian suppliers send their goods to Germany to be inspected, and the personal assistant of the Minister must take samples along with a team ready to fly to Bulgaria.
The next day. “The office and the ministry did not even comment on how much the flight cost or why the issue was so” politically important “- people familiar with the case say such a thing has never happened before.
It turns out that at a time when the Ministry of Health is flooded with proposals for masks and in violation of the procedure under which the Bundeswehr usually places orders. In addition, the production from Bulgaria does not have any identification marks or quality certificates.
In addition, samples show that the products are of poor quality; the conclusion is even that the user of the masks is not protected. It is the same with suits that can only be washed at a temperature of 30 to 40 degrees, which is not enough to eliminate viruses, and therefore can only be used once. However, the procurement service was activated and the process was declared “highly political”. A request is made to conclude the largest possible contract with Bulgarian companies to meet the needs of the army.
This includes orders small for Germany but serious for the clothing company Venus, covered by three contracts for six days: 200,000 masks for 246,000 euros. Another 11,000 protective suits are ordered from other manufacturers, despite obvious doubts about the quality.
Subsequent delivery of samples of suits and visors in April is also of poor quality, without certificates; a license is issued for limited use, the visors – for single use.
“But why are Bulgarian contracts so important in Berlin? The office is silent; talks with international partners are confidential,” SPIEGEL wrote. The magazine asked if the federal government should not have at least checked which companies were involved, especially if they were from a country that is the latest in the EU in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.
Borissov and the companies in the scheme deny any allegations. In the Bundeswehr, however, protective suits are practically in stock, as are visors – some of these goods are not applicable for medical purposes, others may even be dangerous to consumers.