Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Jurin Laksanavisit, chairman of a special government committee set up to investigate the CNN report, said Paddy the Room Trading Company faced eight charges related to selling medical supplies without a permit from Thai regulators.
The company negotiated deals with US companies to provide millions of dollars in medical-grade nitrile gloves, but instead shipped lower-quality vinyl or latex gloves hand-packed in boxes claiming they were medical-grade. Some were even dirty and clearly second-hand.
Paddy the Room did not respond to multiple requests for comment for several months.
Thai authorities have also ordered an investigation into SkyMed, a brand run by a former Thai military officer.
Thailand’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CIB) told CNN that it is working closely with the FBI on the SkyMed investigation.
“The Thai government is taking this matter seriously and we are making sure to bring justice to the damaged parties,” said CIB chief Jirabhob Bhuridej.
Some of the gloves shipped to people who placed orders through Paddy the Room were packaged in boxes with the SkyMed label.
CNN previously reported that Tarek Kirschen, a Miami-based businessman, had ordered about $ 2 million worth of gloves from Paddy the Room late last year. The gloves that arrived were branded SkyMed.
“These were reused gloves. They were washed, recycled,” he told CNN. “Some were dirty. Some had blood stains … I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
In December last year, Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration raided a Paddy the Room warehouse where migrant workers packed loose gloves in SkyMed-branded boxes.
“Any substandard gloves could be from China, Vietnam or Malaysia. They would bring these gloves in bulk and they wouldn’t declare them as medical gloves. Then these gloves would be repackaged as SkyMed and all documents would be handled and shipped to the third country.” Thai FDA Undersecretary General Supattra Boonserm previously told CNN.
The CNN investigation began months ago. SkyMed representatives initially told CNN that they would agree to an interview, but then stopped returning multiple calls and emails. The company contacted CNN after our report was published wanting to share their side of the story.
On Wednesday, in a lengthy on-camera interview with CNN, SkyMed CEO Kampee Kampeerayannon denied that his company was part of any repackaging operations that occurred at the warehouse when it was raided.
“The owner of the warehouse, he just wanted to repackage our brand and export it,” he said.
Kampeerayannon said that if gloves are exported from Thailand under the SkyMed brand, “it is not under our permission,” he told CNN.
The CEO said Paddy the Room was “one of hundreds” of SkyMed riders who had permission to sell and promote SkyMed gloves, although he says the relationship ended more than a year ago.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Boonserm of the Thai FDA said it was possible, but not proven, that SkyMed was somehow the victim of a fake.
One mystery is where SkyMed gets its gloves.
Boonserm told CNN that the company has an import license to bring medical gloves made in Vietnam, but records show that SkyMed has never imported medical gloves into Thailand, nor does the company make its own gloves.
Kampeerayannon acknowledged to CNN that SkyMed does not have its own factory and does not have a license to produce medical gloves in Thailand.
After giving CNN conflicting answers about the number of glove suppliers it has in Thailand, it finally said there was only one.
Kampeerayannon claimed that SkyMed has fulfilled orders for 100 million boxes of gloves, but did not say who bought them.
He told CNN that American musician Nikki Lund had helped fund an order for 144 billion boxes of SkyMed gloves, a claim that Lund emphatically denied to CNN as “impossible and ridiculous.”
That amount of gloves would be almost 40 times more gloves than the entire world produced last year.
“It would take 200 or 300 factories to do it,” said Douglas, a US PPE expert. Stein. “It’s just stupid.”