By Troy Torres
Guam businessman Bic Sobti sold millions in medical supplies and equipment and personal protective equipment to the governments of Guam and the CNMI without a business license to do so.
Invoices and purchase orders dating back to mid-March show GovGuam bought more than a million dollars in medical supplies and PPEs from Mr. Sobti's company, International Royal Inc., dba Royal Bics.
A list of his business licenses disclosed by the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation shows he does not have a license to sell medical supplies. He also did not have a license to sell PPEs, hand sanitizers, gloves, or face masks until two weeks ago, on August 6, 2020.
Mr. Sobti also sold more than $2.5 million in medical supplies to the Commonwealth government. He did not have a business license there at all.
Federal funds entrusted to both governments were used to make the purchases. Part of the procurement process requires verification that the vendor doing business with the government has a business license to do so.
At the start of the public health emergency on Guam, several Guam businesses complained that their imports of PPEs and medical supplies were being seized at the Guam international airport by government officials. Then-public health director Linda DeNorcey explained that unauthorized products could not be imported and companies without business licenses to sell authorized PPEs and medical supplies would not be allowed to bring in such supplies.
Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's spokeswoman Krystal Paco said she will check this issue with the relevant agencies and respond. CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres's office did not answer the phone.
According to emergency procurement procedures that have been in place for decades, government agencies needing to purchase equipment and supplies during an emergency are supposed to call businesses from existing vendor lists of businesses registered with the government. In order to be registered with the government, vendors must complete an application that includes the submission of their business licenses indicating they are a bonafide business and they are licensed to sell certain products or services.
Mr. Sobti would not have been on any vendor list in either the governments of Guam or the CNMI from the start of the pandemic. So then the question remains how or why he was contacted for any emergency or standard procurement when he could not have been on any vendor list and does not have a business license for these purposes.
The Guam Department of Education recently purchased more than $800,000 in PPEs and medical supplies from Mr. Sobti. Superintendent Jon Fernandez two weeks ago provided a list of purchase orders made to Mr. Sobti and promised a further breakdown of the purchases and records of procurement that led to the purchases. These records would indicate when the purchase orders were made, when bid documents were submitted, and when Mr. Sobti was selected to sell medical supplies and PPEs to DOE.
Mr. Fernandez has not responded to Kandit's request for follow up.