HSE feared €7.5m fraud during purchase of 350 ventilators

HSE had signed a contract and money had been paid before the Garda were contacted

Since publication of this article, an Garda Síochana has confirmed that the information contained in the March report to the Policing Authority was incorrect. More details are available below.*

The HSE feared it was about to fall victim to fraud during a €7.5 million purchase of 350 ventilators for critically ill Covid-19 patients from a company in the Far East, and made a complaint to the Garda, according to a report to the Policing Authority.

A contract had been signed by the HSE and the money had been paid by the time the HSE made the complaint alleging attempted fraud, prompting the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) to launch an investigation in March. At the time governments globally were struggling to source ventilators.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’s March report to the Policing Authority states that following receipt of the complaint from the HSE “alleging an attempt to defraud €7.5 million, relating to the procurement of ventilators by a registered Irish company, an investigation was commenced by GNECB in conjunction with international partners, including Interpol and Europol”.


“It was established that the monies had been paid in full, however following the intervention of GNECB, an application was made to the High Court seeking injunctions and the payment has not been transferred. The investigation remains ongoing.”

Breach of contract

The Irish-based company that was acting as an agent in the transaction has now begun a breach of contract case against the HSE in the High Court after the HSE discontinued its planned purchase of the ventilators.

Garda sources have told The Irish Times the Garda investigation into the allegations made by the HSE was ongoing. However, they added no findings had been made against any person or any company and it was yet to be established there was any attempt to defraud the HSE.

In response to queries, Garda Headquarters said it had no comment on the case. The HSE said as the matter was before the courts “it would be inappropriate” for the HSE to comment. The Irish company acting as an agent in the transaction did not respond to requests for comment and neither did its legal representatives.

* September 3rd, 2020: Since publication of this report, an Garda Síochana has confirmed that the information contained in the March report to the Policing Authority was incorrect, and that no monies whatsoever had in fact been paid by the HSE, nor had HSE or the GNECB made any application to the High Court seeking an injunction in relation to the matter or to any payment of monies.  Injunction proceedings had in fact been brought by Narooma Ltd against the HSE alleging non-payment of a sum of money on foot of a contract.

September 3rd, 2020: Garda HQ corrects claim about €7.5m HSE ventilator deal

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times