(CMR) Bluewater Medical Supplies Ltd. is suing the Cayman Island Government over an alleged breach of contract for a CI$1.3 million order of 500,000 COVID-19 Flowflex Rapid Antigen Tests placed on October 27, 2021. The allegation is that after issuing a purchase order a government minister decided to recall or cancel the order and gave it to a foreign company instead.
The medical supply company is seeking specific performance of the purchase order or damages for what it contends was a breach of contract.
Cayman Marl Road became aware of the allegations on Friday, November 5, and has been waiting on FOI documents to lay out the details of what transpired. However, it appears that this sizable order was placed by the government via the Ministry of Health & Wellness company through a competitive tender process. The Procurement Law allows for bypassing of the competitive tendering process in the case of an emergency.
It is understood that several companies were contacted and asked to provide quotations based on the large volume requirement. The purchase order was issued on Wednesday, October 27 and it was signed executed the following day.
However, when the Finance minister became aware of the order he was under the impression that it was not procured properly and rescinded it. This led to a phone call to Randy Merren, owner of Bluewater Medical Supplies Ltd., to withdraw the purchase order some five days later on Monday, November 1. No written cancellation has been received and a letter of intent to sue was issued by Friday evening.
CMR understands that Merren's quote was the cheapest and also could deliver within the specified timeframe. However, the minister decided to go with the foreign company called Crown Agents. Crown Agents is a non-profit international development company. Apparently, they assisted with the transportation of the vaccines from the United Kingdom to the Cayman Islands. This has led some people to believe that they were altruistic in their efforts.
It also has been revealed by sources close to the situation that Bluewater Medical Supplies would have already acted on the basis of the purchase order and began contacting its overseas suppliers immediately to procure the order within the tight time frame. This would have required deposits being made before production and shipping arrangements undertaken.
However, CMR has reliably been informed that Crown Agents is charging in excess of almost $100,000 more than the local company for their NPO services. The Ministry of finance is being criticized for this decision which purports to put money in the hands of a non-Caymanian company that did not go through any sort of a bidding process at all.
It has also been alleged that Crown Agents is not only charging more but is unable to fulfill the government's urgent order in the timeframe that it needed the lateral flow antigen tests ahead of the border reopening.
Further, the company was apparently scrambling on Wednesday of this week to try to source the large volume of test kits required. It appears that bringing test kits via the UK is more expensive and the same supplier company has directed the Caribbean to order their antigen tests directly from its China distribution center.
Additionally, CMR sources have shared that seeking advice from the Attorney General the government has been advised that they have acted unlawfully and that their actions could be tantamount to political interference.
Bluewater Medical Supplies supplies a number of local resellers with their supply of test kits for resale. Ironically, the company's pricing is so competitive that others have decided to order from them based on the quote provided to the government. Bluewater specials in various medical supplies and has been instrumental in providing covid related PPE equipment locally.
During the pandemic, Bluewater has been instrumental in sourcing PPE equipment and other supplies for the Health Services Authority. Through other secured government tenders, they won they have supplied 10 Medtronic Ventilators with two at no cost, 1 million pairs of nitrile gloves, the first set of swabs and transport kits for COVID-19 testing, 120,000 medical gowns to protect frontline employees and 300,000 surgical masks. They have also supplied the government with the 25 viles of Actemra monoclonal antibody drug which we understand is extremely difficult to source.
CMR will provide a more detailed analysis of what transpired in this case once the FOI documents are made available.