Russian Viktor Bout Completed His Fleet With Two IL-18 Aircraft Sold by the Romanian
Romanian Daily Reports Additional Information on Bout's Arms Trafficking Ring
Yesterday, the Evenimentul Zilei daily reported on the "Flying Dolphin" ring. It was made up of a number of companies, behind which we can find Viktor Bout, a person of Russian origin. He is one of the most important armament traffickers at the moment. The international bodies are currently conducting an investigation on Bout. He is charged with armament trafficking toward the talibans in Afghanistan. The media across the [Atlantic] Ocean has recently reported he is the alleged supplier of Bin Ladin and al Qa'idah ring with armament from Romania and Bulgaria. At the Romanian end of the "Flying Dolphin" ring we found the "Flying Dolphin Romania" Company, owned by the Arab citizen Sheikh Abdullah Saqr al Nayhan. The UN reports present him as a close person to the armament trafficker Viktor Bout. The ANCESIAC [Agency for Control on Strategic Exports and Chemical Weapons Ban] informed the public about the fact that Aerofina (Romanian public corporation for military equipment in the Industry Ministry) had filed applications to obtain export licenses for aeronautics equipment in favor of the Flying Dolphin Company. However, the authorized officials must answer the question whether the company close to Bout has been issued a license to export Romanian armament because it resorted to other ways. Today, Evenimentul Zilei keeps reporting about Viktor Bout's "Romanian-Chechen-Moldovan" ring.
"Bucharest, 110 Icoanei"
The "Flying Dolphin" (through its branch the "Flying Dolphin Romania" SRL [limited responsibility company]), is not Viktor Bout's (of a Russian origin and a former aviation forces officer) sole tie with Romania. A company that was also mentioned in the Western investigators' reports, which had run several armament transports for Bout is called "Renan." Its HQ is in Chisinau, in the Republic of Moldova. The Irish Company "Balcombe Investments Ltd." is "Renan's" main shareholder. However, two Chechen brothers, Timur and Alican Mutaliev, own the Iris Company. The interesting fact is that a document issued by the Chechen-Irish people at "Balcombe Investments" bears the following address in Romania: "Balcombe Investments Ltd. Bucharest 110 Icoanei Str. 3 Tel/Fax: 401 211 35 19." The UN observers in Africa have also got possession of the document. The utilization of this address is not a mistake. The Trade Registrar informed us that this was the address were a branch of the well known holding Valeologia, used to function. Valeologia is a company registered in Chisinau, and it has been involved in several scandals on armament and radioactive substances trafficking on the Romanian territory. The Chechen Tamerlan Mutaliev is one of the Valeologia holding's founders. He is none other than the other two Chechens' brother. They are the majority stockholders at the "Renan" Moldovan Company. The international reports write the latter used to transport armament for the Russian trafficker Viktor Bout. Tamerlan Mutaliev runs part of his businesses in Romania. However, his main operational center is in Yemen, yet another conflict area, which is close to the United Arab Emirates. Sources from the Western secret services told us that the Mutaliev brothers are considered to be among the most powerful armament traffickers in the region.
Bout - Chechens - Constanta
Tamerlan Mutaliev, one of Bout's associates, is well connected in Romania. Besides a branch of the Valeologia holding, set up in 1993, which is still operational, he has also set up yet another company in Constanta, in the same year. The company's name is "Terra Impex SRL." The social registered capital has not been increased. The contact phone number is not anymore valid. Besides the fact that it does not have any stated object of activity, two Romanians also work in this company (Nicolae Danut from Constanta and Veronica Vatasescu from Bucharest). The other shareholders are the following. Moukhmad Galaiev, born in Malgobek, in Ingusetia, who has no citizenship and resides somewhere in Chechnya. Viniciuc Leonid, born in Pesceanca, in Ukraine, who resides in Budapest. Gabor Fustos, who was born in Budapest, Hungary. Tamerlan Mutaliev owns 15 percent from the company's shares. He identified himself with an Ukrainian passport. He uses an address in Hungary, and his place of birth is in Kazakhstan.
"Iliusin" From Romania
According to a report drafted by the International Peace and Information Service, made public in 2001, Viktor Bout's air fleet includes two "Iliusin 18 V" aircraft. They were purchased from the Romanian Company Tarom [national Aircraft Company]. The two aircraft's codes are "YR-IME" and "YR-IMD." From Tarom they got to the "Air Cess Liberia" fleet. This is one of the companies suspected of having been used by Bout for armament trafficking. After that, the first "Iliusin" aircraft got to another company's fleet, also under Bout's control, namely "Santa Cruz Imperial," Liberia. Its code is "EL-AHO." The second aircraft from Tarom got through "Air Cess Liberia" to "Santa Cruz Imperial," under the code "EL-ADY," and then to "Star Airlines" in Sharjah, with the code "EX-7504." Changing the aircraft's codes is one the ways used to make the authorities lose track of the aircraft that is being used to transport armament. Nicolae Demetriade, the Tarom Company's general director, told us that after 1989, the "two 'Iliusin' aircraft were sold because they had used their 'flight resource.'" This means the maximum number of flight hours they could operate had expired. "Some of them were sold for scrap iron. I remember two aircraft of this type, with the codes 'YR-IML,' and 'YR-IMK.' They were sold in Kazakhstan and in the Republic of Moldova. Another two aircraft, with the codes 'IME' and 'IMD,' were sold to the Flying Dolphin Company, in 1998. The sale was concluded through the Stock Exchange," Nicolae Demetriade added. In relation with the activity carried out by the "Flying Dolphin" Company in Romania, Nicolae Demetriade confirmed us that the company runs deals and it is quite well known among the air operators. "The 'Flying Dolphin' has a Boeing 707 aircraft, which it repairs at Tarom. So far their aircraft has been checked three times in Baneasa. The last time, in December 2001, we even had a conflict with the 'Flying Dolphin,' because they wanted to take back their aircraft after it had been repaired and did not want to pay. It was not about an extremely great sum, it was about approximately $30,000. However, we did not let the plane go until they paid," Nicolae Demetriade, the Tarom Company's general director told us.
The "Valeologia" Scandals
Vitali Usturoi's name, a former officer in the Soviet Special Forces, the owner of the Valeologia Company, was mentioned for the first time in the 1994 Lake Villa scandal, in Snagov. At that time, several persons were caught in the act while trafficking 4.5 kilograms of a radioactive substance. As a matter of fact, after 1990, the Valeologia Company has been quite often charged with armament and radioactive substances smuggling. In July 1997, the Court of Accounts found that over the 1992-1993 interval, the former Bancorex [bank for foreign trade that went bankrupt] had granted loans in hard currency to the Valeologia Company, although the Chisinau Company was not authorized to carry out commercial operations in Romania. Although he was well aware of this fact, Dan Pascariu, the Bancorex chairman in office at that time, endorsed the loans. With the respective money, the Valeologia Company purchased Romanian ARO vehicles, which it traded in the ex-Soviet space. The credits taken from Bancorex were never paid back. The Valeologia Company brought Bancorex damages amounting to approximately $140 million.
Stefan Candea, Sorin Cehan, Sorin Ozon