Ayanda Capital supplied 50 million faulty face masks to the UK - this is what the company does

(Photo: JONATHAN KLEIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Fifty millions face masks secured by the government as part of a £252m contract will not be used in the NHS over safety fears.

The masks use ear-loop fastenings rather than head loops, which means they may not fit tightly enough to be effective.

Ayanda Capital - the company who supplied the masks - said the masks met the specifications the government had set out.

"The masks supplied went through a rigorous technical assurance programme and met all the requirements of the technical specifications which were made available online through the government's portal," they said.

The news comes as it’s also revealed the deal was formulated by a government trade adviser who also advises the board of Ayanda.

But what is Ayanda Capital? And why were they awarded the contract to provide PPE to healthcare workers at such a critical time?

Here's everything you need to know.

What is Ayanda Capital?

Ayanda Capital Limited won the contract to supply face masks to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in April.

The company describes itself as “a London-based family office focused on a broad investment strategy”, and states on its website that it specialises in “currency trading, offshore property, private equity and trade financing."

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic,  the awarding of such a high-profile contract to a company with little or no link to the healthcare sector was controversial.

Jolyon Maugham QC runs a not-for-profit group seeking a judicial review of many of the government's PPE deals, and said the fact that a £250m PPE contract has gone to "an opaque family fund owned through a tax haven" poses "serious questions about how this Government has gone about procuring protective equipment."

"Enormous sums of public money have been dished out on the basis of a highly unusual process that breaks all the normal procurement rules. To protect public funds and to try and prevent further PPE procurement failures, we intend to get answers.”

Does Ayanda evade tax?

That's not to mention that Ayanda is ultimately owned through an offshore holding firm based in the tax haven of Mauritius.

However, it has disputed any allegations of tax wrongdoing, and told iNews it pays its taxes in the UK.

“In response to certain incorrect Twitter coverage, Ayanda Capital Limited is a UK limited liability company that pays its taxes in the United Kingdom," it said.

"Ayanda Capital has a large network of trading counterparties globally and was able to assist the Government at short notice in meeting its critical PPE requirements and is proud to have been able to do so.”

Who is Andrew Mills?

Then there are the links to the government which raised questions as to the reasoning behind the contract.

Andrew Mills - an adviser to the government's Board of Trade chaired by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss - has been listed on LinkedIn as a Senior Board Adviser to Ayanda Capital since March.

It's since been revealed that Mills' own company Prospermill secured the capacity of a large Chinese factory, but requested the government hand the contract to Ayanda because it could arrange overseas payments quicker.

Mills told the BBC his position played no part in the award of the contract.