Oklahoma Business sues international companies after losing nearly $ 2 million in botched PPE order

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A Tulsa company is seeking damages from several international companies involved in a botched order for N95 masks for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Casey Bradford, a Tulsa business owner behind PPE Supplies LLC, was hired by the health department to research and purchase nearly two million medically certified masks last year amid strong global demand. The agency wired its company, PPE Supplies LLC, $ 2.1 million in March 2020.

The company operated by Bradford, Michael Velasquez and Brett Baker worked with companies based in Washington state, Kuwait, Cambodia and China on an order of $ 1.74 million for one million masks, according to reports. court documents filed by attorney for Bradford.

Bradford and the company wired the $ 1.74 million to Khan Enterprises General Trading Company of Kuwait in two payments on March 27 and April 2, 2020, according to court documents filed by PPE Supplies LLC.

The masks never arrived and none were refunded from the order, said Margo Shipley, a lawyer for Bradford and the company. So far, PPE Supplies LLC has returned $ 300,000 to the state.

“PPE Supplies has done everything possible to reimburse the state for what it can now,” Shipley said.

The federal lawsuit also targets Kaikane, a Washington-based company, and EJET, the Chinese company that was at the end of the international trade deal.

In May, according to court documents, IREC told PPE Supplies LLC that one million masks had been shipped to the Mongolian government rather than Oklahoma.

Bradford alleges in a federal petition filed on March 31 that Khan Enterprises and Cambodian company IREC promised a refund, but only returned $ 50,000.

“Khan and IREC have made several assurances that they will return the money, and my client has tried to work with them to get it. But at some point it became clear that this wasn’t happening, ”Shipley said. “That’s why we took these steps. ”

In January, OSDH filed a civil lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court, asking Bradford and PPE Supplies LLC to reimburse the missing funds.

Attorney General Mike Hunter said the state agreed to do business with Bradford because of the limited options at the time for protective gear.

“In a perfect world, this transaction would have taken place in a much more deliberative and well-documented manner,” Hunter said in January.

The state partnered with Bradford as procurement rules were relaxed due to international demand for protective equipment needed in the pandemic response.

Last week, a routine state audit found that OSDH could not account for more than $ 20 million in “emergency purchases”.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health does not generally use wire transfer payments, so mistakes have been made,” the Department of Health said in its response to the audit.

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