New Names surface as linked to Victor Bout
Amnesty International published a report Democratic Republic of Congo: arming the east, on 05Jul05.
New names surfaced as linked to Victor Bout: the Compagnie Aérienne des Grands Lacs (CAGL), and the Great Lake Business Company (GLBC) and various others. I was also interested to see various Antonov types mentioned: 9Q-CGQ, 3C-QQE and EL-WVA.
Parts of this report has been reproduced below.
In Rwanda, an airline company named Regional International Air Services was formed in 2003 operating an aircraft from Moldtransavia, a Moldovan company whose operations were suspended after a UN report on violations of the arms embargo on Liberia linking Moldtransavia to the network of arms trafficker Victor Bout.Two other Antonov aircraft registered in Rwanda to Regional International Air Services were reportedly exported to South Africa in December 2003.
Jetline Inc, also listed as Jetline International, whose fleet includes various aircraft from the former companies under the effective control of Russian businessman Victor Bout, operated the BAC 1-11 aircraft registered as 3C-QRF.
There also appears to have been collaboration between arms traffickers in the DRC and Liberia. In 2002, Ducor World Airlines of Bulgaria sent a request to the DRC civil aviation authorities to fly a military cargo from Serbia to Kinshasa. The DRC authorities told Ducor that the address in the DRC that Ducor used for military services was wrong.
[photo © Olaf Juergensmeier] Ducor re-submitted its request to fly the cargo but, after the DRC aviation authorities apparently gave no response, the cargo was said to remain undelivered. However, on 13 March 2003, the DRC embassy in Serbia and Montenegro told the Serbian Ministry of Defence that a DRC End User Certificate was indeed genuine. The Serbian government reported this to UN officials investigating eight illegal arms flights by Ducor brokered by a Belgrade company, Temex, to Liberia between June and August 2002 using false end user certificates of Nigerian origin. Efforts by the UN to confirm with the Kinshasa authorities the authenticity of the end user certificate remained unsuccessful by the time the UN Report on Liberia was issued but the chief executive officer of Ducor World Airlines, Duane Egli, was placed on a UN travel ban list in October 2004. The other main transporter of arms from Serbia to Liberia named by the UN in 2002 was Aerocom, a company closely associated with the trafficking network of Victor Bout. Ducor World Airlines, previously Liberia World Airlines, has reportedly supplied military equipment to Burundi using the Tanzanian town of Mwanza over the past few years.
The Ugandan government admitted in 2003 that an eastern European business network was very active in the arms and natural resource trade and that Lt-General Saleh had continued his interest in Air Alexander International contrary to the President’s directive. Lt-General Saleh and Major-General Kazini, former chief of staff of the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), were accused by the UN Panel on the DRC of facilitating international companies in eastern DRC to illicitly exploit the DRC’s natural wealth - including diamonds, gold, timber, ivory and coltan - while commanding Ugandan forces there. Saleh, his wife and Kazini were linked in the UN report to a company called La Société Victoria (the Victoria Group).The most prominent foreign businessman identified by the Porter Commission as being involved with senior UPDF officers was Russian national Victor Bout who is accused in various UN reports of trafficking arms to UN embargoed destinations from Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and other countries.
The role of Victor Bout and associates– arming both sides
In April 2005, the US Department of Treasury froze the assets of 30 companies and four individuals linked to Victor Bout’s violation of the UN arms embargo on Liberia, including Bukavu Aviation Transport and Business Air Services, both of the DRC.
In 2000, the company San Air, which mainly used Boeing 707 and Ilyushin-76 aircraft, supplied arms from Bulgaria to the DRC government. In February and May 2004, Jetline International, an aviation company based in Ras al Khaimah (UAE) and Tripoli-Mitiga (Libya) whose fleet includes planes formerly operated by Bout’s companies leased a cargo aircraft for arms deliveries to the DRC government. Another company, the Moldova-based Aerocom, already involved in illegal arms shipments to Liberia, has reportedly based an Antonov-26 (ER-AWN) aircraft at Kinshasa airport since September 2003. Aerocom’s operating licence was cancelled on 6 August 2004 by the Moldovan civil aviation authorities and Aerocom’s activities were taken-over by the Ukraine-based Asterias Commercial.
The activities of two aviation companies based in Goma need close attention: the Compagnie Aérienne des Grands Lacs (CAGL), and the Great Lake Business Company (GLBC). A local Congolese businessman linked to RCD-Goma, manages the GLBC, but investigation by the UN Group of Experts indicates that a Russian businessman named Dimitri Popov runs the company as well as the CAGL and that he in turn is allegedly linked to Victor Bout. The UN Group of Experts reported that: "Numerous sources interviewed by the Group noted that the aircraft operated by those two companies were linked to the network of internationally renowned arms broker Viktor Bout through one of his frontmen, Dimitri Popov…Businessmen interviewed by the Group, who hire Mr. Mpano’s aircraft for cargo transport, volunteered that Mr. Popov was integral to the management of GLBC and CAGL operations and that they often negotiated directly with Mr. Popov on matters pertaining to the hiring of GLBC planes, even when he was in the United Arab Emirates or the Russian Federation." UN Group of Experts report, 25 January 2005, (S/2005/30), paragraphs 67-69, and see also APPG report, 24 December 2004, op cit: pages 21-22.
An Antonov plane with Liberian registration EL-WVA has been used during 2004 by both CAGL and GLBC. On 30 November 2000, the Transavia Travel Agency, a company based in Sharjah, U.A.E, sold the Antonov with manufacturer’s serial number OG 3440 to CAGL for "and in the consideration of the sum of USD1.00 only and other valuable considerations".The Transavia Travel Agency is considered to be a company belonging to the Victor Bout trafficking network and as such its assets were recently frozen by the U.S. Department of Treasury. This aircraft, EL-WVA also belonged to Bout’s company Air Cess and it was reportedly used to deliver arms from Kigali to the Rwandan army in Kisangani in March 2000. Research also reveals that during 2003 the same Antonov with serial number OG 3440 was being flown between Uganda and DRC by two other companies, Showa Trade and Santair Cargo Ltd, under an Equatorial Guinea registration number: 3C-QQE.
In July 2004, an aircraft using the old EL-WVA registration was spotted at Kongolo airport in the DRC transporting arms and ammunition. Previously, on 31 July 2002 an Antonov An-8 with the same registration overran the runway at Kalemie airport in Katanga, DRC.
On 22 January 2005, the same plane appears to have crashed at Kongolo on a flight from Goma via Bukavu and Kindu. The operator was allegedly CAGL. All "EL" aircraft registrations under the Liberian Civil Aircraft Registry were revoked in 2001 as a result of the UN investigations into the violation of the UN arms embargo on Liberia, and the Liberian registry updated, therefore the use of the registration EL-WVA has been illegal. [Photo © Michel Bonnardeaux]
Another cargo plane used by GLBC is also considered to belong to the Bout arms trafficking network: the Antonov-32 with Equatorial Guinea registration 3C-QQT (m/n 1407). The plane, formerly registered in Russia as RA-48974, was sold and re-registered as 3D-RTB in 1997 to Air Pass – based in South Africa and Swaziland and owned by Bout’s brother’s Air Cess/Cessavia (based in Sharjah but registered in Liberia) and by Norse Air of South Africa.(266) Between 1999 and 2000, this Antonov 32 was illegally registered as TL-ACH (Central African Republic) under two of Bout’s connected companies, Centrafrican Airlines and the Sharjah-based San Air General Trading. Due to its illegal activities, Centrafrican was compelled to close. Its assets passed in 2001 to CET Aviation(another company reportedly in the Victor Bout arms trafficking network) and then the plane was again re-registered, this time as 3C-QQT (Equatorial Guinea), operated by the GLBC. In June 2004 the US State Department circulated a list of nine air companies linked to Victor Bout. The list names nine companies including Air Bas, Air Cess, and Jet Line. However, this has apparently not stopped the authorities in Rwanda and Uganda from allowing this aircraft to operate.
Mystery of Antonov-8 registered as 9L-LEO
The same plane was spotted in Goma during July 2004. International aviation records reveal that the Antonov 8 with serial number OG3410 was previously flying with Liberian registration number, EL-AKY. The aircraft used to belong to Santa Cruz Imperial/Flying Dolphin Airlines based in the United Arab Emirates, a company owned by a business associate of Victor Bout. [Photo © Jens Juengling]
UN report, January 2005, S/2005/30: page 19. "The Group obtained documents concerning the Antonov 12 aircraft registered 9Q-CGQ that indicated that the plane had been insured jointly, on 11 November 2004, in the name of Great Lakes Business Company, with the address listed as P.O. Box 315, Goma, and Ilex Ventures Ltd, with the address listed as Cassandra Centre, Offices 201 & 202, 2nd floor, 29 Theklas Lyssioti Street, P.O. Box 58184, 371 Limassol, Cyprus. The Group contacted the company in Cyprus by phone and was told that it could not release information to the Group until it had checked with representatives in Moscow. The Group subsequently received a fax from the Cyprus director, Petros Livanios, who stated that Ilex Ventures did not have any joint projects with GLBC and did not operate any aircraft jointly with GLBC in the region or elsewhere. Instead, Mr. Livanios noted that Ilex Ventures contacts with GLBC were "limited to several supplies of aircraft spare parts and units and [sic] single deal in resale of aircraft"."
UN Report on Sierra Leone, S/2001/1015 of 26 October 2001. According to the UN findings, Ranjivan Ruprah, a close business partner of Victor Bout, also set up the ghost airline West Africa Air Services. The UN Panel obtained a copy of a contract agreement between West Africa Air Services and the airline company "Renan" based in Moldova for the leasing of a cargo aircraft that was used for violating the UN arms embargo.
EL-WVA was operated by AirCess, delivering arms to Kisangani in 2000 and was also used by two Goma-based companies, GLBC and CAGL, as described earlier in this report. Letter from Antonov, Aviation scientific & technical complex, 4 June 2003, helps trace the link between EL-WVA and 3C-QQE.
Back to Victor Bout's file
When the socalled 'Panama Papers' were researched, Viktor Bout's name came up to; now here is an even more recent quote from The Guardian-
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Last updated 05Aug2016