US Announces New Indictment Against International Arms Dealer Viktor Bout and American Co-Conspirators – Money Laundering, Wire Fraud, Conspiracy Charges

LawFuel.com – American Law Newswire Service
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, and MICHELE M. LEONHART, the
Acting Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement
Administration (“DEA”), announced today the unsealing of an
Indictment against international arms dealer VIKTOR BOUT, a/k/a
“Boris,” a/k/a “Victor Anatoliyevich Bout,” a/k/a “Victor But,”
a/k/a “Viktor Budd,” a/k/a “Viktor Butt,” a/k/a “Viktor Bulakin,”
a/k/a “Vadim Markovich Aminov,” and his associate RICHARD AMMAR
CHICHAKLI, a/k/a “Robert Cunning,” a/k/a “Raman Cedorov,” for
allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency
Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) stemming from their efforts to
purchase two aircraft from companies located in the United
States, in violation of economic sanctions which prohibited such
financial transactions. The Indictment unsealed today also
charges BOUT and CHICHAKLI with money laundering conspiracy, wire
fraud conspiracy, and six separate counts of wire fraud, in
connection with these financial transactions.

BOUT has been in custody in Thailand since March 6,
2008. Since BOUT’s arrest, the United States has been actively
pursuing his extradition from Thailand on a separate set of U.S.
charges. Those charges allege that BOUT conspired to sell
millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas
Revolucionarias de Colombia (the “FARC”) — a designated foreign
terrorist organization based in Colombia — to be used to kill
Americans in Colombia. The United States has apprised Thai
authorities of the new charges against BOUT unsealed today and
will continue to work closely with them on this matter. The
United States is also coordinating with INTERPOL to locate and
arrest CHICHAKLI.

According to the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan
federal court and other court documents:
BOUT, an international weapons trafficker since the
1990s, has carried out a massive weapons-trafficking business by
assembling a fleet of cargo airplanes capable of transporting
weapons and military equipment to various parts of the world,
including Africa, South America, and the Middle East. The arms
that BOUT has sold or brokered have fueled conflicts and
supported regimes in Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
CHICHAKLI, an American citizen, has been a close associate of
BOUT since at least the mid-1990s, assisting in the operations
and financial management of BOUT’s network of aircraft companies.
Since at least 2000, BOUT’s role in fueling
international conflicts with weapons, as well as his close
relationship with CHICHAKLI, have been recognized by the
international community. Based in part on their close
association with former Liberian President CHARLES TAYLOR, both
BOUT and CHICHAKLI have been the subject of United Nations
Security Council (“UNSC”) sanctions restricting their travel and
their ability to conduct business around the world.

According to the UNSC Sanctions Committee Concerning
Liberia, BOUT “supported former President TAYLOR’s regime in [an]
effort to destabilize Sierra Leone and gain illicit access to
diamonds.” The Sanctions Committee also noted that CHICHAKLI,
“an employee/associate” of BOUT’s, had a “significant role in
assisting [BOUT] in setting up and managing a number of his key
firms and moving money.” In addition, more than 25 companies
affiliated with BOUT and CHICHAKLI have been listed by the
Sanctions Committee as subject to similar restrictions concerning
their assets and financial transactions. As a result of the
UNSC’s resolutions and sanctions regime, all United Nations
member states have been directed to freeze any funds, financial
assets and economic resources owned or controlled by BOUT and
CHICHAKLI, and to ensure that such monies are not made available
to them, or used for their benefit, within the member states’
territories.

In 2004, consistent with the sanctions previously
adopted by the UNSC concerning Liberia, the President of the
United States issued an executive order prohibiting any
transactions or dealings within the United States by individuals
affiliated with former President TAYLOR. Accordingly, the U.S.
Department of Treasury, pursuant to its authority under the
IEEPA, prohibited BOUT from conducting any business in the United
States. In 2005, that prohibition was extended to CHICHAKLI. In
2006, similar to the sanctions relating to Liberia, the President
of the United States issued an executive order prohibiting any
transactions or dealings within the United States by individuals
involved in the destabilization of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo. The Treasury Department identified BOUT as an individual
subject to the Congo prohibitions.

The United Nations and IEEPA sanctions encumbered
BOUT’s and CHICHAKLI’s efforts to conduct business within their
existing corporate structures. Accordingly, the defendants took
steps to form new companies, and to register these companies in
the names of other individuals in order to create the false
appearance that they had no affiliation with them.

One such company, Samar Airlines, was created in 2004,
right after the majority of United Nations and IEEPA sanctions
became effective. BOUT and CHICHAKLI were personally involved in
the operational and business affairs and decisions of Samar
Airlines, though they held out other individuals as being the
officers of the company. In 2007, in violation of the IEEPA
sanctions to which they were subject at the time, BOUT and
CHICHAKLI, acting through Samar Airlines, contracted to purchase
two Boeing aircraft from companies located in the United States.
In connection with the purchase of these aircraft and
services relating thereto, BOUT and CHICHAKLI electronically
transferred more than $1.7 million through banks in New York and
into bank accounts located in the United States. They did so
through a number of front companies, whose assets were also owned
and controlled by BOUT, in order to evade the UNSC’s sanctions
regime and the IEEPA prohibitions. Upon the discovery that
CHICHAKLI was connected to Samar Airlines, the U.S. Treasury
Department blocked the funds that had been transferred into the
bank accounts of the U.S. aviation companies.
* * *

The Indictment unsealed today charges BOUT and
CHICHAKLI with nine individual offenses:
• Count One: Conspiracy to violate the International
Emergency Economic Powers Act;
• Count Two: Money laundering conspiracy;
• Count Three: Wire fraud conspiracy; and
• Counts Four through Nine: Wire fraud.
If convicted, BOUT and CHICHAKLI face a maximum
sentence of 20 years in prison on each of Counts One through
Nine. The case is assigned to United States District Judge
WILLIAM H. PAULEY III.
The charges unsealed today were the result of the close
cooperative efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for
the Southern District of New York, the DEA, the U.S. Department
of Justice Office of International Affairs, and the U.S.
Department of State.

“Viktor Bout allegedly made a career of arming bloody
conflicts and supporting rogue regimes across multiple
continents, even using the U.S. banking system to secretly
finance a private fleet of aircraft. The United Nations and the
United States have long-standing sanctions against Bout that stem
from, among other things, his support of the most violent and
destabilizing conflicts in recent African history. Until his
arrest in March 2008, Bout had found a way to circumvent these
sanctions, successfully evading the rule of law. This Office is
committed to working with our partners in the United States, at
the United Nations, and around the world to bring transnational
criminals like Viktor Bout to justice,” said U.S. Attorney PREET
BHARARA.

“Viktor Bout was originally charged in March 2008 with
conspiring to kill Americans by selling millions of dollars worth
of weapons to Colombia-based narco-terrorists. Further
investigation has revealed additional criminal activities by Bout
including money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy. The
additional charges contained in the newly unsealed superseding
indictment amply illustrate the extraordinary breadth of Bout’s
deadly criminal enterprise,” said DEA Acting Administrator
MICHELE M. LEONHART.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism
and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States
Attorneys ANJAN SAHNI, BRENDAN R. McGUIRE, JENNA M. DABBS, and
CHRISTIAN R. EVERDELL are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely
accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.
10-049 ###

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