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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vanuatu-based GT Group Behind North Korean Arms Shipment

Vanatu, an Island 2200 KM East of Australia, near Fiji is the base for GT Group, the owners of Viacom, a company formed in Aukland, New Zealand about 6 months ago. Viacom chartered the Viktor Bout Ilyushin-76 aircraft that was transporting 35 tonnes or arms, 140 crates, to parts unknown, possilby Iran. During a stopover,The plane was detained in Thiland, and TBDA suggests the deal may have been set up and coordinated by Russian Speakers out of Uzbekistan.

-Shimron Issachar

WELLINGTON (AFP) – The New Zealand government said Thursday it was investigating whether there were any links between a New Zealand-registered company and a huge cache of weapons flown out of North Korea.

The 35-tonne load, including missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, was discovered after the plane and its Belarussian pilot and four Kazakh crew landed to refuel at Bangkok's domestic airport on Friday.

A New Zealand foreign ministry spokeswoman said it was investigating reported New Zealand links to the shipment.

"We are aware of the media reports and are seeking to verify any substance to allegations of a New Zealand connection," the spokeswoman said.

Officials in Kazakhstan -- where an airline previously owned the seized Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft -- said the plane had been leased by the Georgian owners to a company called SP Trading in New Zealand.

"According to the information of the Kazakh diplomatic mission in Thailand and competent organs in Kazakhstan, the detained Ilyushin-76 aircraft was... rented to a New Zealand company, SP Trading Limited, to carry out the delivery of cargo," Kazakh foreign ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov said Monday.

A company called SP Trading is on the New Zealand Companies Register with an office in Auckland. The only listed director is Lu Zhang and all the company shares are owned by another company Vicam (Auckland) Ltd.

Vicam in turn is owned by Vanuatu-based GT Group, whose website says it provides services including privacy, legal tax avoidance, and asset protection.

Attempts by journalists to visit or contact SP Trading, which was incorporated in July this year, and Zhang have been unsuccessful, New Zealand media reports said.

The Soviet-era aircraft was seized in the Thai capital on Friday during a refuelling stop and was discovered to be carrying about 35 tonnes of weapons from North Korea, in violation of UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

The plane's five crew members have been charged in Thailand with possessing war weapons but police said they deny knowing what they were transporting.

On Monday, a Thai court extended the detention of the crew so police could investigate further.

It is the first known airborne arms cargo seized under the latest UN resolution against North Korea -- adopted in response to Pyongyang's nuclear programme -- and Washington has hailed it as proof sanctions have been effective.

Thai media have claimed the authorities were tipped off about the plane by US intelligence.

The Rest @ AFP

1 comment:

Ian Taylor said...

18 December 2009

SP Trading Limited – in reference to seized weapons in Thailand

GT Group Limited, Port Vila Vanuatu – We are a consulting company based in Vanuatu, providing various business and company incorporation services to professional clients internationally. We provide this service from Vanuatu, New Zealand, Cook Island, Samoa and other jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has various requirements for due diligence and or identification of the beneficial owner or operator of the incorporated company. GT Group Limited follows the due diligence and client identification requirements according to the laws of each jurisdiction from which it offers services. GT Group Limited is not responsible for the operation or activities of companies that it has incorporated. GT Group Limited may at times also supply a Nominee Director or Shareholder and in the case of SP Trading Limited, we can confirm that GT Group Limited has supplied such.

SP Trading Limited was incorporated by our New Zealand Agent the 22nd day of July, 2009 at the request of one of our professional clients based in the United Kingdom. The professional client met the due diligence requirements in place with regard to identification of the beneficial owner.

GT Group Limited confirms that it has no connection to the activities of SP Trading Limited and strongly emphasizes that it acted as an Incorporator and Registered Agent only.

All persons employed by, contracted by, or sub contracted by GT Group Limited in relation to the incorporation and Nominee Directorship and Nominee Shareholding of SP Trading Limited have no knowledge of the activities of SP Trading Limited and are in no way involved with the shipment of any items of any kind, at any location and by any means.

GT Group Limited has approached the New Zealand Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in a pro-active move to fully cooperate with any investigation in any jurisdiction in relation to SP Trading Limited or its beneficial owners. As of the issue of this press release, GT Group Limited has in no way been contacted by any authority.

Time: 1:00PM, Vanuatu Time.

Date: December 18, 2009

Location: Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Contact person: Ian Taylor by telephone (+61) 450955048.

Further Comments: No further comments will be made by any person other than the above appointed person and any attempt to obtain comments from any other employee, manager, director, agent or associates will be met with a “no comment” response.