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Lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone says she has been treated like drug lord Pablo Escobar after the bank accounts were frozen by National Crime Agency amid PPE scandal

Baroness Michelle Mone has claimed that she is being treated like Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar after her bank accounts were frozen amid the PPE scandal.

Baroness Mone, 52, is being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) over allegations of fraud and bribery surrounding PPE Medpro, the company led by her husband that received £200million in government contracts during the pandemic.

The NCA is understood to have frozen several of her accounts, including one at Coutts, the private bank favoured by the royal family.

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The freeze was ordered about 12 months ago in a bid to prevent her from moving cash, The Sunday Times reported. But the headline-prone Tory peer claims she only became aware of the freeze when she tried to make a purchase at a petrol station.

The NCA is investigating Baroness Mone and her husband, Doug Barrowman, 58, for alleged fraud and bribery in relation to their involvement with the Government’s lucrative PPE contract – which the couple deny.

Baroness Mone lobbied Michael Gove and Lord Agnew in May 2020 to secure lucrative business for PPE Medpro.

It was then awarded contracts to supply the NHS with medical protective equipment during the pandemic through the ‘VIP lane’ to fast-track preferred partners.

PPE Medpro received one contract, worth £81million, for facemasks and another, valued at £122million, for medical gowns.

The deal yielded profits of about £60million, but company is being sued by the Government for £122million, plus costs for alleged ‘breach of contract and unjust enrichment’. PPE Medpro is defending the claim.

Lady Michelle denied for many years that she was involved in the company and did not declare any link to PPE Medpro on the House of Lords register of interests.

But in November last year leaked documents from HSBC revealed that Barrowman had been paid £65million from PPE Medpro’s profits. The documents also suggested that £29million of funds were transferred into an offshore trust in which Baroness Mone and her children are beneficiaries.

In an interview earlier this month, Lady Michelle admitted lying to the Press over her links to the firm – but insisted she could not ‘see what we have done wrong’.

Both she and and Barrowman have been questioned under caution by the NCA. However, it is understood that both attended their interviews with prepared statements and, citing legal advice, declined to answer other questions.

At least four ministers involved with the handling of the contracts process have reportedly cooperated with investigators.

Mr Gove is said to have passed on ‘everything’. He said last week that he hopes the NCA investigation ‘reaches its conclusion quickly’ and that ‘justice can be served’.

Baroness Mone previously hit out at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after he said he was taking the scandal ‘incredibly seriously.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, she wrote: ‘What is @RishiSunak talking about?

‘I was honest with the Cabinet Office, the Government and the NHS in my dealings with them.

‘They all knew about my involvement from the very beginning.’

She was made a Conservative life peer in 2015 (pictured 2019 at the House of Lords)

The pair denied, via lawyers, involvement with PPE Medpro for three years.

In a growing row, Lord Bethell, who was a health minister during the Covid pandemic, rejected Baroness Mone’s claim.

He replied on the social media site that she ‘wasn’t honest about her financial interest to me’ and noted her link to PPE Medpro ‘wasn’t in her Register of Interests, as you’d expect it’.

Baroness Mone then returned to social media again to ask whether the PM stands to profit from Moderna’s development of a Covid vaccine.

‘I suggest that he might want to take that “incredibly seriously” before pointing fingers to save his own skin!’ she posted.

Asked previously about claims he might have benefited financially from investments in pharmaceutical companies – including Moderna – during the Covid pandemic, Mr Sunak has pointed to his interests being held in ‘blind trust’.

‘I don’t actually have any knowledge of what is in there. And that’s how that works,’ he told TalkTV’s Piers Morgan earlier this year.

‘The whole point about something that’s truly blind is that it’s blind from me.’

Baroness Mone and Mr Barrowman’s interview, on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, saw the peer admit she did not tell the truth about her links to the firm – while insisting that she and her husband have ‘no case to answer’.

When asked about Baroness Mone’s admission she had lied about her involvement with PPE Medpro, the PM told reporters during a trip to Scotland: ‘The Government takes these things incredibly seriously, which is why we’re pursuing legal action against the company concerned in these matters.

‘That’s how seriously I take it and the Government takes it.

‘But it is also subject to an ongoing criminal investigation. And because of that, there’s not much further that I can add.’

Government ministers have advised Baroness Mone not to return to the House of Lords, which she has been a member of since 2015 after being handed a peerage by ex-PM David Cameron.

She took a leave of absence from Parliament’s upper chamber in December last year, which she said at the time was ‘in order to clear her name of the allegations that have been unjustly levelled against her’.

Labour are calling for Michael Gove to appear before MPs after Baroness Mone claimed she contacted the Cabinet minister at the start of the pandemic following a ‘call to arms for all lords, baronesses, MPs, senior civil servants, to help, because they needed massive quantities of PPE’.

Labour’s Cabinet Office minister Nick Thomas-Symonds demanded Mr Gove, who was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster during the Covid crisis, appear in the House of Commons to answer questions following her claim.

In a letter to Mr Gove, he said: ‘This series of events has led to civil litigation and an NCA investigation. Yet these ongoing matters should not preclude you from addressing questions about your own involvement and the role of the Government.

‘Events so far expose a shocking recklessness by the Conservative Government with regard to public money, and a sorry tale of incompetence in relation to the so-called ‘VIP Lane’ for procurement during the pandemic.’

Mr Thomas-Symonds said that Mr Gove should answer questions about the so-called ‘call to arms’ and what further communications he had with Baroness Mone.

‘The very least Conservative ministers owe is maximum possible transparency and there should be an urgent statement to Parliament before the Christmas Recess,’ he said.

Labour’s health spokesman Wes Streeting said: ‘Our message to those people who sought to use the pandemic to get rich quick: we want our money back. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea for her to do that interview, but I don’t think anyone watching will be shedding any tears.’

Baroness Mone previously told a YouTube documentary, funded by PPE Medpro, that she believed she would be cleared of all wrongdoing.

In the documentary, presented by journalist Mark Williams-Thomas, she admitted she made an ‘error’ in denying her links to the PPE Medpro firm.

The Baroness went on to say she suffers from panic attacks and nightmares about the NCA ‘crashing through the house’ and she sees them standing over her bed.

Lady Mone had initially denied having any links to PPE Medpro but admitted in the film: ‘I made an error in what I said to the press.

‘I regret not saying to the press straight away, ‘Yes, I am involved.’ And the Government knew I was involved.’

The film, part of a public fightback, was funded by PPE Medpro, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Lady Mone, who was made a peer by Lord David Cameron in 2015, claimed it is ‘100% a lie’ to suggest she was not transparent with officials, and her husband claimed a ‘DHSC negotiator’ suggested the case could ‘go away’ for the right sum.

She said in the documentary: ‘It’s 100 per cent a lie. It’s not true. I wanted the guys to succeed, I wanted the NHS to succeed. I wanted a win-win situation.’

When asked what she felt when the pandemic hit, she said: ‘I thought I could fix it. I could fix it by getting quality PPE on time at the best prices.’

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