Skymed Thai medical glove company CEO arrested after CNN investigation

Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) told CNN Tuesday that Kampee Kampeerayannon, CEO of a company called SkyMed and a former senior Thai air force officer, had been detained after a judge issued a warrant. According to Thai police, he faces charges of public fraud and distributing false information by computer.

Police say Kampee has denied all charges against him. CNN is seeking comment from Kampee’s legal representation.

At a news conference on Wednesday, the CIB said the CEO of Skymed’s parent company, Sufficiency Economy City Co. Ltd, had been arrested in Bangkok on Tuesday, without naming Kampee.

“We are encouraging any damaged parties to come forward and give us information. There are criminals who are exploiting the situation of extremely high demand in medical supplies and trying to cheat people while they are desperate,” CIB chief Jirabhob Bhuridej said at the news conference. “This is damaging to legitimate medical supply producers based in Thailand.”

The CIB had previously told CNN it is working closely with the FBI on the SkyMed investigation in response to a complaint from an American customer.

Nitrile gloves shipped to the US by Thai company Paddy the Room Trading Company. These examples, seen by CNN, show clear signs of previous use -- handwriting in pen and other soiling.

The CIB now says that US customer had paid $6.2 million for 2 million boxes of SkyMed gloves. But since the money was wired to the company in December 2020 as a 40% down payment, not a single pair of gloves has ever been delivered to the American client.

“The Thai government is taking this issue seriously and we are making sure to bring justice to damaged parties,” Jirabhob said last week after a lengthy CNN investigation was published.

Shortly after CNN’s first report aired last week, a Thai prosecutor announced charges against another Thai company alleging it exported millions of substandard, soiled and reused medical gloves to US distributors as demand for the product worldwide surged during the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came days after a CNN investigation exposed the practice.

CNN previously reported that Tarek Kirschen, a Miami-based businessman, had ordered about $2 million of gloves from a company called Paddy the Room late last year. The gloves that arrived were branded SkyMed. Kirschen told CNN the supposedly medical grade gloves were dirty, bloodstained, and had been washed and reused.

A raid on a warehouse used by Paddy the Room Trading Company in Bangkok, Thailand in December 2020. Deputy secretary-general of the Thai FDA Supattra Boonserm and members of the Royal Thai Police seized counterfeit nitrile gloves. The Thai FDA says SkyMed, the brand whose logo is on the boxes of gloves, is "for sure fake."

In December last year the Thai Food and Drug Administration raided a Paddy the Room warehouse where migrant workers were packing loose gloves into boxes branded SkyMed.

“Any sub-standard gloves, could be from China, Vietnam or Malaysia. They would bring these gloves in bulk, and they would not declare them as medical gloves. Then these gloves would be repacked as SkyMed and all documents would be doctored and sent to the third country,” Thai FDA deputy secretary-general Supattra Boonserm told CNN in a recent interview.

Last week, in a lengthy on-camera interview with CNN, Kampee denied his company was part of any repackaging operation occurring in the warehouse when it was raided.

“The owner of the warehouse, they just wanted to repack our brand and export it,” he said.

Kampee said if any gloves are exported from Thailand under the SkyMed brand, it is “not under our permission,” he told CNN.

CNN Investigation: Tens of millions of filthy, used medical gloves imported into the US

Supattra, from the Thai FDA, told CNN that SkyMed had an import license to bring in medical gloves made in Vietnam, but records show SkyMed never imported medical gloves to Thailand, nor does the company manufacture its own gloves.

After giving CNN contradictory answers about the number of glove suppliers it has in Thailand, Kampee ultimately said there were none.

Kampee also claimed SkyMed has filled orders for 100 million boxes of gloves but would not say who had purchased them.

In August the US FDA sent an alert to all its port staff that shipments from Sufficiency Economy City Co. Ltd. should be subject to detention without physical examination.

On Friday the FDA said it was “investigating certain imported medical gloves that appear to have been reprocessed, cleaned or recycled and sold as new,” and called on American healthcare providers to report any problems with medical gloves.

The US Department of Homeland Security is also investigating.

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