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HomeCOVID-19Innova’s iniquity, Part 1: How test firm flashed the UK taxpayer’s cash

Innova’s iniquity, Part 1: How test firm flashed the UK taxpayer’s cash


Today I present the first part of a further investigation into the Innova Medical Group lateral flow test for Covid-19 – a test that the US has declared unsafe and unfit for purpose, yet which the UK government remains committed to, perhaps because of its £3.2billion ‘NHS Test and Trace’ investment in it. 

IN June, I wrote an in-depth four-part investigative report for TCW Defending Freedom, exposing the many scandals of the Innova lateral flow test (LFT) and the US and Chinese companies behind it: Innova Medical Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pasaca Capital and its Chinese manufacturing partner, Xiamen Biotime Biotechnology. 

The golden child of lateral tests was fast-tracked through Public Health England’s Porton Down laboratory and Oxford University’s joint ‘rigorous’ evaluation programme. It was given special VIP status, by being placed ‘on top of the pile’.  

In December 2020, it was granted Exceptional Use Authorisation (EUA) by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), without the standard regulatory approval process because of ‘exceptional circumstances’.  

Professor Tim Peto, chief investigator of the joint evaluation programme (overseen by Sir John Bell, Regius Professor at Oxford University and Susan Hopkins from PHE) admitted in relation to the Innova LFTs, ‘we had to buy before we knew they worked’.  

This fully explains why the first round of multi-million-pound contracts with Innova Medical Group were already greenlit by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), chaired by the now former Health Secretary Matthew Hancock, weeks before the evaluation report was even published.  

Considerable evidence points to the fact that the tests were also inaccurate, unreliable and still are ‘not fit for purpose’. 

The Chinese-made, and US-supplied Innova test was the sole brand of LFT used as part of the Government’s discredited NHS Test and Trace scheme, costing the taxpayer £32billion with no evidence that it made a measurable difference.  

A recent article posted on the Good Law Project’s website provides yet another dimension to this saga of ineptitude and possible corruption. 

Quoting the Public Accounts Committee report on Test and Trace, which could not ‘point to a measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic’, the article describes one measurable difference – which was ‘for the owners of the biggest of the pandemic contract winners, Innova’. 

The GLP adds an Los Angeles Times report on how the Innova owners flashed a bank statement ‘with a $175million balance as proof of funds’ and also went on ‘a corporate and personal luxury buying spree, including several Gulfstream jets and luxury houses’. 

The welcome news is that the GLP has been granted court permission to bring a judicial review, questioning the decision to make Tory life peer Dido Harding head of NHS Test and Trace from May 2020 to May 2021.  

This was the period when she was ‘in charge of the programme that delivered unimaginable wealth to Innova’s owners, yet made no measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic’.  

Up until now, roughly £4billion of taxpayers’ money has been handed over to Innova Medical Group, (the last contract awarded in July was worth a hefty £144million) an unknown California start-up, formed coincidentally around the start of the pandemic by the US-Chinese billionaire Charles Huang, founder of Pasaca Capital, a private equity firm. 

Revealed in the article is the critical fact that John Penrose MP, the Government’s anti-corruption champion, who ‘rather than chasing corruption … seems to spend his time besmirching those who do’ is the husband of Harding. This fact was found ‘laughable’ by Jolyon Maugham, chairman of GLP.   

I concur.  How can an independent inquiry ever be launched if it is your own spouse you’re supposed to be investigating? This glaring conflict of interest has been shockingly ignored by the mainstream media.  

The Penrose-Harding connection was raised in Parliament by Tonio Antoniazzi, Labour MP for Gower, in the Government Contracts: Covid 19 debate on June 21, 2021.  

Antoniazzi said: ‘Some people might want to raise the issue of apparently cosy contracts, the lack of a tendering process and the inability to declare contracts, but who would they turn to?  

‘Perhaps they could approach the Government’s own anti-corruption champion, the Hon Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose), although he might not be open to receiving complaints as he is married to Baroness Harding.’  

I welcome the GLP’s pursuit of the rampant Test and Trace corruption and for drawing the public’s attention to the lucrative contracts made to the owners of Innova.   

According to the Los Angeles Times, when a real estate agent asked for proof of payment from one of the Innova executives, he waved the company’s bank statement showing a deposit of $128million from the UK government.  

Maugham, however, reveals only a fraction of the scandals surrounding the Innova lateral flow test, which I believe is one of the most (of several) fraudulent Covid schemes that’s gone on at a catastrophic cost to the UK public.  

In my investigative report I revealed the many Innova anomalies, such as the drastic changes the DHSC made to the instructions for use of the test. Essentially, this involved repurposing the test from being intended only for use by laboratory-trained professionals on symptomatic patients (those showing symptoms), as laid out in the original manufacturer’s instructions, to being used by anyone over the age of 12 with no symptoms (asymptomatic). 

The false justification given for using Innova as the sole supplier without a call for competition (bypassing the standard tendering process) was that it was in accordance with Article 32 of the contract conditions: ‘Innova are the only available supplier of home use lateral flow tests for Covid-19 as there is currently no other supplier whose Covid-19 tests are authorised by the relevant regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, for self-test use in the UK.’   

The existing link I had used as my source in Part 2 of my original report now gives this message: ‘This content has been deleted, doesn’t exist, or can’t be previewed.’ There could be a legitimate technical reason, of course – or perhaps it might be the case of covering up the evidence.  

Article 32 is not true, because there were other LFTs, some even UK-made, that passed the evaluation process at the same time as Innova and were granted MHRA approval very soon after.  

Thanks to an anonymous source, there is yet another scandal that’s been drawn to my attention in connection with the executives at Innova Medical Group.  

Daniel Elliott, the CEO of Innova and President/Partner of Pasaca Capital, was the former CEO of EnerBlu, the now-bankrupt battery manufacturer.   

In late 2017, Enerblu announced plans to invest $400million for a new battery manufacturing plant in Pikeville, Kentucky, creating 875 jobs. Kentucky officials approved $30million in tax incentives and pledged millions in grants.  

However, the only thing to materialise from the new plant proposal were lawsuits launched against the executives at EnerBlu, many whom happen to sit on the board at Innova and Pasaca Capital, including Daniel Elliott and Darin Marino .  

The Florida investor group Dapco invested $3million into the development of the proposed EnerBlu plant. But, according to its representative, all it got in return was ‘a bogus Eastern Kentucky battery plant that was never more than drawings on a piece of paper’. 

The investors filed a lawsuit against EnerBlu’s executives, accusing them of fraudulent misrepresentation, fraud by omission and unjust enrichment.  

They accused EnerBlu of using ‘little to none’ of the $9.6million it raised for developing products or technology. Instead, Elliott and the other defendants ‘were travelling around the world at great expense, purporting to be closing in on investments from some of the wealthiest people and entities on the planet’. 

Elliott was fired from EnerBlu in January 2019 and shortly afterwards moved to California, where he joined forces with the elusive Charles Huang.

Huang, like Elliott, is no stranger to controversy himself as I wrote earlier in part 4 of my first report. Huang was the financial director for China Brilliance Group and played a ‘key role’ in its strategic alliance with MG Rover.  

This joint venture ended abruptly when China Brilliance failed to pay what it owed to MG Rover, perhaps due to the sudden departure of its senior executives to the US due to their involvement in economic crimes in China. MG Rover’s managing director reported that China Brilliance ‘never had any intention of building motor vehicles with the company’.   

There appears to be a serial case of scandal surrounding the key people behind the Innova LFT. In Part 2 of my follow-up report, I will reveal more.  

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Sonia Elijah
Sonia Elijah
Sonia Elijah has a background in Economics. She's a former BBC researcher and now works as an investigative journalist. Follow her on Twitter @sonia_elijah.

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