Wednesday, December 16, 2009

look what the cat dragged in

So this is the best news story on the Ilyushin 76 seized in Thailand I've yet seen. Based on that, we know that the aircraft is ex-Beibars (a company that suddenly appeared on the Viktorfeed at the end of 2007, and which is banned from the EU) and ex-East Wing. But we still didn't have a registration or a serial number.

But looking up Air West Georgia (ICAO: AWG), I could simply look for an aircraft described as ex-Beibars or ex-East Wing. had a reference to 4L-AWA at AWG as being ex-East Wing; following it back, I found it had been supposedly transferred from East Wing to Beibars but the transaction had been cancelled. That, however, was enough to find the serial number (3426765). And what did we find in the database for that?

4L-AWA is none other than Air Pass/Air Cess's Swazi registry 3D-RTA, Centrafricain Airlines' TL-ACY, and GST Aero's UN-76007 - to put it another way, it's been with Viktor Bout companies since 1997, when it was taken off the Russian register in order to be exported to Malaysia - entirely fictionally. In fact, it was already a regular visitor to Sharjah in 1996, according to photo evidence, which places it there while Richard Chichakli was setting up the SAIF Free Zone.

Since then, ATDB has updated its files to confirm the aircraft is indeed number 3426765. At Beibars, it was operating along with none other than the former YU-AMJ, an aircraft previously used by Tomislav Damjanovic's Air Tomisko to run guns and ciggies in and out of the Balkan wars. 3344804, also with Beibars as UP-I7623, is also ex-GST Aero (and a few others - Aerolift of Somalia fame and Air Leone). In fact, every aircraft there had seen service moving arms into war zones.

East Wing, in case you ask, is itself banned from the EU and owned the bulk of the old GST Aero fleet of Ilyushin 76 before they were mostly moved on to Beibars. It also has another ex-GST Il-76 via another company and the former ST-AQA, formerly of both GST and Phoenix Aviation - and this aircraft in northeastern Brazil.

Supposedly it was carrying a sizable cargo of arms from North Korea declared as "oil drilling equipment". (wot no fish?) I don't know where to, or whether there is truth to the North Korean bit, but it was an aircraft well worth stopping on suspicion based on an asset operating history analysis. It is fair to say that the UAE would have been a likely call before going somewhere else, perhaps in Africa or southwest Asia.

Wild speculation would be that this can't help Viktor Bout's case very much and that therefore this is quite a coup.


Gulfman said...

New book reveals the hidden secrets in Chichakli's case
Shadow Masters, a new book by Daniel Estulin the author of the best seller "The Builderburg Group" is due for release in the US on Monday Dec 21, 2009 and with its release huge amount of secrets related to the allegation manufactured by the US government against Richard Chichakli will be exposed for the first time. The book provides evidentiary documents and testimonials that contradict everything the US government alleged about the Bout-Chichakli relation, it also expose those involved in the conspiracy including names like Farah, Wolosky, Peleman, and many others.

Alex said...

Did he spell Bilderberg like that in the book?

This sounds a lot like the usual line on RAC's Web site. It'll be interesting to see if he tries to blame Deirdre Ward again - the woman with the lowest phone bills at Norse Air/Air Pass. Less than the airporthands and drivers. Obviously a key command node...

SilverRebel said...

And again in the crew colleague of Bout of the 339 regiment of military transport aircraft in Vitebsk.

Bakhunin said...

The problem with tracing back aircraft ownership, when trying to figure out responsibility for arms transportation, is that it's comparatively easy to do from public data on the internet (and from the heroic tracing efforts of ADTB), but it doesn't necessarily tell you who the aircraft was operating *for*. A bit like hiring a taxi for a bankjob - obviously the taxi driver and their boss have some responsibility for what's done with the cab. But the real business is often being done by the people in the back with the balaclavas paying the fare.

In this case, the Kazakh CAA and the WSJ are reporting that plane is on charter to one SP Trading Ltd, a New Zealand-registered company. The trail goes a bit cold after that: looking at the NZ company registry tells you that SP Trading, directed by one Lu Zhang, is a brass plate registered on 22 July 2009. 100% owned by another brass plate, Vicam (Auckland) Ltd, itself owned by the Vanuatu-based company formation agent that applied to register SP Trading Ltd in the first place. It's a fair bet Zhang is also a nominee director fronting for the company's real owners.

So regardless of who used to own the plane, surely the real responsibility for the transaction lies with whoever's behind SP Trading Ltd (which might itself be the plane's owners, of course). That's what's (comparatively) unusual about the Bout network - they appear to have been the same people providing the dodgy planes and the dodgy guns. But I see no reason to think that that's always (or usually) the case.

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