|July 2008- While Victor remains in arrest in Bangkok,Thailand we may consider if his business is operating as normal. A company I would like to have a closer look at is Click Airways, allegedly a company with ties to the infamous arms dealer.|
06 mar 08, 1121GMT - The Associated Press
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A Russian arms dealer accused of breaking U.N. arms embargoes by supplying weapons to African war zones was arrested Thursday in Bangkok, Thai police said.
Police Lt. Gen. Pongpat Chayapan, head of the Crime Suppression Bureau, said Viktor Bout was arrested in the heart of the capital Bangkok on a warrant issued by a Thai court. The warrant came out of an earlier one issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman «congratulated» the Thai police for the arrest but could not provide details about the role the Americans played in it. Details of the charges against Bout were also not immediately available.
Bout allegedly has been trafficking weapons to Central and West Africa since the early 1990s. U.N. reports say he set up a network of more than 50 aircraft around the world and trade experts have said illicit diamond trade was likely one source of funds for his smuggled arms shipments.
Although Bout has been investigated by police in several countries, he has never been prosecuted for arms dealing. A 2005 report by Amnesty International, a Britain-based human rights watchdog, alleged that Bout was «the most prominent foreign businessman» involved in trafficking arms to U.N.-embargoed destinations from Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and other countries.
The report also implicated Bout in transferring «very large quantities of arms» from Ukraine that were delivered to Uganda via Tanzania aboard a Greek-registered cargo ship.
In 2003, the U.N. imposed an arms embargo on the provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri regions of eastern Congo, and also on groups that were not a part of the 2003 peace agreement for the region.
I came across a list of airlines of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.):
I wonder if the fact that EX-035 has been flying in SE Asia (o.b.o. Imtrec - a company that is rumored to have 'via via' contacts with VB) had anything to do with Mr Bout's visit to Bangkok.
Click Airways, I've been told, is being handled at Sharjah (U.A.E.) by RUS Aviation (or RUSS Aviation?). I've also been told, anno 2010, they have complete control on all the cargo flights in and out of Iraq... The Iraqi government gave them a long term contract, their monopoly made the prices go up and allegedly some Iraqi government people made a lot of money out of this... That smells of corruption, which could damage the Iraqi economy and certainly is not part of 'Democracy' as the Western world intended to bring to Iraq.
Iraq controversy fades as market falls28-May-2010
INEFFICIENCY, profiteering and monopolistic behaviour, were all accusations made against RUS Aviation of Sharjah when it won an exclusive 4-year deal to build up the cargo business of Iraqi Airways last August.
Cargo operators who had been flying into the country ever since the aftermath of the 2003 war, suddenly found themselves having to work through RUS instead, and many claimed that it was not up to the job.
The controversy swiftly evaporated, however, with companies such as Coyne Airways and Chapman Freeborn signing GSA deals with RUS in recent months.
Coyne was appointed UK and Ireland GSA in March, after Chapman Freeborn had won the USA contract. Coyne said at the time that RUS 'offers excellent schedule integrity and proven reliability into Iraq'.
Merchant of Death, the book... Former West African Bureau Chief of the Washington Post, Douglas Farah and Los Angeles Times National Correspondent, Stephen Braun detail how a small circle of U.S. officials and international investigators worked doggedly to shut down Viktor Bout's arms pipelines, only to be trumped by Bout's ingenuity and by their own inability-and, in some cases, unwillingness- to confront the dark side of the new world order.
To show that Victor Bout is not the only one doing business under a smokescreen of many company names:
Seized Il-76 tracked back to Kazakhstan
An extensive investigation into the tangled web of shell companies that were behind the Il-76 seized in Bangkok (Thailand) for arms running, has tracked its owner back to Almaty (Kazakhstan).
The cargo aircraft and crew were detained last year by the Thai authorities after a tip-off from US intelligence agencies. On board were 35 tons of explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, surface-to-air missiles and other weaponry picked up from North Korea and destined for…which is where the trail grows murky. The crew and manifest claimed the cargo to be “oil industry spare parts”.
Research uncovered layer upon layer of suspiciously new and previously unknown companies and an extremely elaborate flight path. Starting in Baku (Azerbaijan) it first flew to Al-Fujairah (UAE) and Bangkok before taking on its cargo in Pyongyang (North Korea). It then returned to Bangkok where it was then held. If it had been allowed to continue on its journey it would have continued to Colombo (Sri Lanka), then Al-Fujairah again, on to Kiev, where it would double back to Tehran (Iran) to offload and then ending up in Podgorica (Montenegro): in total, a distance of over 24,500km.
The web of companies is just as tortuous. Overseas Trading FZE, a leasing company based in Sharjah (UAE) and owned by Svetlana Zykova, leased the Il-76 to a Georgian firm, Air West, owned by Levan Kakabadze.
Lunyov claims that another company – the Ukrainian Aerotrack – had responsibility for chaperoning the shipment from North Korea to Iran and that it was Aerotrack that originally falsified the charter agreement and packing list to suggest the freight was the spare parts.
No Aerotrack has ever been at its listed address and its main contact’s – Victoria Doneckaya – telephone number is a private residence that has never heard of her or Aerotrack.
In fact, all the companies’ owners (at least, those that could be found) – Zykova, Kakabadze and Lunyov – deny ever knowing what the shipment was. However, they all share one connection: Alexander Zykov, husband to Zykova and known associate of Lunyov.
Zykov owns East Wing a Kazakhstani airfreight company. It was his crew that were detained. Companies and aircraft belonging to Zykov are known to have been involved in arms trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Zykov claims that the crew were on temporary leave when they were caught.
Friends and family of the crew say that working for Zykov is well paid but in return the crew must ask no questions of the shipments and be prepared to fly dangerously ill-maintained aircraft into conflict zones, such as the Sudan and Somalia.
A friend and once fellow pilot of one of the crewmembers – Mikhail Petukhov – said: “It’s not easy working for [East Wings]. For one thing, their planes are old, so the flights are dangerous. And it also means being ready to break pretty much every aviation law on the books. But it’s work, and they pay well," he said.
An engineer who regularly works on Zykov’s aircraft said: “You get paid to do the flight, and you don't ask any questions about what's inside the boxes.”
Updates & comments welcomed.
Victor Bout, the Official Website
Website of Sharjah Aint'l Airport
Back to Victor Bout's file