Monday, May 31, 2004

Why was Mr. C receiving funds from the Liberian shipping register?

Our friend Richard Chichakli, Texan accountant and business identity, would surely agree that some of his customers have been other than controversial. After all, in his capacity as president of San Air General Trading he would surely have been delighted to see some US$925,000 in two months come into the company. The source of these funds was interesting, according to the House Armed Services Committee. The US-based company which manages the Liberian shipping register, LISCR, had paid this sum in two tranches to San Air's Sharjah account with the Standard Chartered Bank (no.01015712572). Later, the ways of commerce would bless San Air with a further US$697,980. What a body set up to register companies and ships with the Liberian government was doing paying an airline this sort of money is not clear. The UN Expert Panel seems to believe that this was in the nature of a consideration for services rendered, specifically the supply of war material.

So they say. No alternative explanation has yet been put forward, however. At the time, a consignment of Bulgarian-made rifles was making its way to the Liberian ruler Charles Taylor by means of an Ilyushin 18 aircraft registered to Centrafricain Airlines, supposedly owned by a Bulgarian firm, chartered by MoldTransavia and re-chartered by Centrafricain. It was supposedly a replacement at short notice for another aircraft (a Tupolev 154) leased by Mold from San Air, which in any case was insuring the Il-18. The original charter was signed by the Bulgarians and Centrafricain, but the payment was made by San Air. The conclusion that San Air paid because it received the LISCR money would seem the simplest explanation.

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