Assets of £75 million have been frozen as a criminal probe intensifies into Michelle Mone and PPE Medpro - a scandal that unravels like a political thriller.
Baroness Michelle Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman have found themselves knee-deep in legal turmoil after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) froze assets linked to them amid a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into PPE firm Medpro.
The development is a stark turn in a saga that began with suspicions of criminal offences in PPE contracts procured by the consortium led by Barrowman in May 2021.
£75 million in assets, including a Belgravia townhouse and an Isle of Man estate, have been restrained or frozen, following an application by the CPS.
The roots of the controversy go back to 2022 when the UK government sued PPE Medpro for breach of contract, asserting that £122 million worth of supplied protective gowns were substandard. PPE Medpro, led by Barrowman, contests the claims, framing the lawsuit within the broader context of the pandemic's chaotic PPE procurement landscape.
Baroness Mone, apparently shocked by the asset freeze after admitting lying on live television recently, has compared her treatment to that meted out to infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar after having her bank accounts frozen. Notably, the couple's assets include 15 bank accounts at Coutts, C Hoare & Co, and Goldman Sachs International.
A spokesperson for the couple claims the assets' freeze was part of a "consensual process," facilitating the couple's pursuit to prove innocence – although prior knowledge of the freeze is somewhat in doubt given Mone’s apparent shock and Escobar comparisons. Doug Barrowman, Mone's husband, expressed his disdain for private matters becoming public through leaks.
In a startling admission on live TV Mone, elevated to the House of Lords in 2015, confessed to lying about her connections to PPE Medpro, a company awarded contracts exceeding £200 million. The revelations have triggered accusations of breaches in the peerage-awarding process by former Scotland Secretary David Mundell.
The freezing of assets adds a new chapter to the PPE Medpro saga, transforming it from a corporate controversy to a legal thriller involving a Conservative peer, a high-profile entrepreneur, and allegations of political impropriety. As investigations unfold, the true extent of the scandal and its repercussions on the political landscape remain uncertain.