“International fugitive Richard Chichakli requests extradition to US to face charges linking him to Russian arms dealer”

April 4, 2013

Herald Sun on April 4, 2013 released the following:

Emily Portelli From: Herald Sun

“INTERNATIONAL fugitive Richard Chichakli, arrested in Melbourne after applying to become a protective services officer, has asked to be sent back to the US to face charges linking him to a Russian arms dealer.

“I consent to the extradition and ask the court to kindly send me home to the United States as soon as possible,” the Syrian-born US citizen said today via video link at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

“I thank Australia for its hospitality, I just need to go home.”

The alleged associate of war criminal Viktor Bout arrived in Australia in June 2010 on a false Syrian passport and left and returned to Australia six times before his arrest in January.

The 53-year-old was living in Melbourne’s north and was arrested after his fingerprints were matched to an Interpol alert when he applied for a job as a PSO.

He had already passed Victoria Police psychological and fitness screening.

The US sought to extradite Mr Chichakli to New York to face charges relating to his alleged conspiracy with Bout to purchase planes to transport arms to international conflict zones.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg told Mr Chichakli he was facing charges of conspiracy to violate the International Economic Emergency Powers Act, conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six wire fraud offences.

“Of course I deny all of them but that is for a United States court to try,” Mr Chichakli said.

“I am ready for extradition, sir.”

Mr Rozencwajg told him he would send a letter this afternoon to the Attorney-General, who would then likely order his surrender to the US.

Bout, who is currently serving 25 years on US terror charges, inspired the character played by Nicholas Cage in 2005 war film Lord of War.

It is alleged the pair provided arms to former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, who was last year sentenced to 50 years’ jail for war crimes.

Mr Chichakli had been on the run from American authorities since 2005.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Australia here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Did the U.S. Offer a Plea Deal to Viktor Bout?

January 3, 2011

Viktor Bout, the suspected Russian arms merchant, is being quoted as saying U.S. authorities promised him a lighter sentence in exchange for information about his contacts.

Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” said the plea bargain offer was extended by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents who transported him from Thailand in November.

Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 in a U.S. sting on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist group. He fought extradition, but was sent in November to New York, where he is in federal detention awaiting trial.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported Sunday that Bout said he was offered “a lighter sentence…and the possibility of bringing my family to the U.S.A., if I told all I know about my contacts in Russia and other countries. But I responded that I have nothing to say.” See the entire news article and interview here.

If the U.S. government did offer Bout a plea deal in exchange for information and he rejected it, Bout is most likely headed for trial in the U.S. at this point.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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WikiLeaks: Cables Reveal Details Behind Bout’s Extradition

December 6, 2010

Not everything coming out of Cablegate is unflattering. Documents released by WikiLeaks this week have pulled back the curtain on the high-level coordination between the State Department, Department of Justice and the White House to bring alleged arms dealer Victor Bout — the so-called global “merchant of death” — to trial in the United States, including the existence of a dedicated “Bout team” within the U.S. embassy in Bangkok.

Thai authorities had arrested Bout in Bangkok in March of 2008 while he met with informants working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Yet Bout’s extradition proceedings dragged out for more than a year before he was brought to New York to face trial in federal court in Manhattan, where he was charged with four terrorism conspiracy counts related to a DEA sting in Thailand.

After a Thai judge ruled against Bout’s extradition in August of 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand warned the newly endorsed Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of a potentially “major setback” in U.S. relations if “corruption and undue influence” had an impact on the case. Faced with the prospect that Bout could be released and allowed to return to Russia, Ambassador Eric. G. John recommended that both the State Department and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder call in the Thai ambassador to Washington to push for Bout’s extradition. The ambassador also recommended that the governments of Colombia, Sierra Leone and Liberia weigh in on Bout’s case to the Thai government.

Bout had long been in the crosshairs of the U.S. government. Over the course of the 1990s and early 2000s, U.N. investigators linked Bout’s fleet of aircraft to arms shipments in Liberia and Sierra Leone. In 2004, President Bush signed an executive order placing sanctions on Bout and his business associates with ties to the United States. Shortly thereafter, Treasury Department officials froze any assets and financial transactions within U.S. jurisdiction through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). However, Bout eluded arrest despite being the subject of a sealed indictment in federal court in New York for violating those U.S. sanctions.

In my opinion, the U.S. government did everything they could possibly do to try to affect the outcome of the extradition process. However, I disapprove of Washington’s strong-arm methods, and needless to say, the cables have been both enlightening and disappointing. It is certainly worrisome to know the extents that the U.S. government went to in order to impact the decision-making process of judicial authorities in another country.

To read the full Time article, please click here.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Update: Suspected Russian Arms Dealer’s Extradition Delayed Until October

September 6, 2010

A suspected Russian arms dealer’s extradition to the United States will be delayed at least until Oct. 4 to allow a Thai court to review new charges filed as a precaution by Washington, a judge said Friday.

The announcement by the Bangkok Criminal Court is the latest blow to Washington, which had expected Viktor Bout’s rapid extradition after a Thai appeals court gave its approval on Aug. 20.

Bout, 43, is reputed to be one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers.

His high-profile arrest in a 2008 U.S.-led sting operation in Bangkok ended a decade-long chase for the Russian, who has never been prosecuted despite being the subject of U.N. sanctions, a Belgian money-laundering indictment and a travel ban.

After last month’s ruling, the U.S. quickly flew a plane to Bangkok to pick up Bout. The move was publicized in Thailand as the latest evidence of heavy U.S. pressure in a case that has turned into a diplomatic tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow.

Experts say Bout, a former Soviet air force officer, has knowledge of Russia’s military and intelligence operations and Moscow does not want him to go on trial in the United States.

Bout has been indicted in the U.S. on four terrorism-related charges and faces possible life in prison. The U.S. indictment alleges Bout agreed to sell weapons to U.S. agents posing as arms buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which Washington classifies as a terrorist organization. Bout denies the accusations.

The Bangkok Criminal Court in August 2009 rejected an initial U.S. extradition request in a ruling that stunned Washington. The U.S. responded by requesting an appeal but also filed new charges against Bout to keep him detained in case the lower court’s ruling was upheld.

When the appeals court reversed the ruling last month, the U.S. moved to drop the second charges. However, under Thai law, a defendant has the right to object to charges against him being dropped, Criminal Court Judge Krerkrit Ittarat said. That means Bout could object to dropping the charges as a way to stall his extradition, a stance that his lawyer has said he will take.

The court said it previously set a date of October 4 for Bout to hear the new charges and will stick to that schedule.

The Department of Justice does not comment on pending extradition cases, but is probably anxiously awaiting the outcome of the October hearing.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Thai Court Rules: Viktor Bout to be Extradited to U.S.

August 20, 2010

A Thai court on Friday ordered the extradition to the United States of Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman suspected of running a large-scale arms trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily to the ruling.

Prosecutors in the United States say Bout, 43, commanded a fleet of aircraft to send weapons to rebel groups and warring countries around the world. He was arrested in Bangkok in a sting operation two years ago.

Bout stood after the ruling was announced and embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was being led out in leg irons and an orange prison uniform. The court ordered his extradition within three months.

Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of suspected terrorists by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for weapons of mass destruction Iraq.

A panel of judges in August 2009 sided with the defense and decided that Bout’s guilt could not be determined in a Thailand court. The court on Friday did not contradict this but said there was enough evidence to extradite Bout to the United States.

Bout’s notoriety helped spawn the 2005 film, “Lord of War,” and his arms dealings are detailed in “Merchant of Death,” a book by two American journalists who describe Bout’s dealings as falling into a “legal gray area that global jurisprudence has simply failed to proscribe.”

Bout has allegedly delivered weapons into Africa and Afghanistan, among other places, but has also supposedly flown missions for the Pentagon in Iraq and the United Nations. Sometimes Bout was hired to fly in arms to a particular group, the authors note, and then was paid by the United Nations to deliver humanitarian aid to the same area.

Bout was arrested in March 2008 at a hotel in Bangkok after agreeing to sell millions of dollars worth of arms to undercover agents for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration posing as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

It remains unclear why Bout traveled to Thailand. Thai intelligence officials say that Russia was in talks with Thailand to provide a small but sophisticated diesel-powered submarine in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his more than six decades on the throne.

The case has put Thailand in the awkward position of referee between Russia and the United States. Thailand is one of the United States’ closest allies in Asia, but its relations with Russia have also warmed considerably since the end of the Cold War. Thai beach resorts have become a major draw for Russian tourists looking to escape the long winters.

The case has offered a window into the scale of arms trafficking. During the meeting in March 2008, Bout allegedly told the undercover American agents that he could deliver 700 to 800 surface-to-air missiles, 5,000 AK-47 assault weapons, millions of rounds of ammunition, land mines, C-4 explosives and remotely piloted aerial vehicles, according to the United States indictment.

United States prosecutors filed fresh charges against Bout in February alleging that he and his former business associate, Richard Chichakli, sought to purchase two aircraft from American companies in 2007 using front companies. The sale was in violation of United States and United Nations sanctions and was blocked.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Russian Arms Dealer May Avoid U.S. Extradition; Thai Appeals Court to Rule on Friday

August 19, 2010

The suspected Russian arms dealer known as “The Merchant of Death” is tired of prison life but optimistic a Thai appeals court will rule in his favor Friday and refuse to extradite him to the United States, his lawyer said.

Viktor Bout, a 43-year-old former Soviet air force officer, is reputed to be one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers. He has been linked to some of modern history’s most notorious conflicts, allegedly supplying weapons that fueled civil wars in South America, the Middle East and Africa to clients such as former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Bout’s high-profile arrest in a 2008 U.S. sting operation in Bangkok ended nearly a quarter-century of cat-and-mouse chases for the elusive Russian. It also raised Washington’s hopes for a quick handover of a man who has never been prosecuted despite being the subject of U.N. sanctions, a Belgian money-laundering indictment and a travel ban.

Instead, it spurred a diplomatic tug-of-war between Moscow and Washington that led to lengthy delays and prompted a lower court judge to seek input from the Foreign Ministry, saying he was in “a tough position” and feared ties with both countries could be at stake. The Bangkok Criminal Court ultimately rejected the U.S. extradition request in August 2009.

Experts say Bout — who gained notoriety in the 1990s for running a fleet of aging Soviet-era cargo planes to conflict-ridden hotspots in Africa — has been useful for Russia’s intelligence apparatus, and Moscow does not want him going on trial in the United States.

Bout has repeatedly denied the accusations and claims his air cargo business was legitimate.

The 2005 Nicolas Cage film, “The Lord of War,” is widely believed to be modeled after Bout’s life.

The Russian’s own nickname was coined in 2000 when a high-ranking minister at Britain’s Foreign Office dubbed him “The Merchant of Death” for his alleged arms role in Africa.

Bout’s March 2008 arrest at a Bangkok luxury hotel came after an elaborate operation led by U.S. agents posing as arms buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which Washington classifies as a terrorist organization. The four-month investigation involved meetings in Curacao, Denmark and Romania.

After his arrest, Bout was indicted in the U.S. on charges of conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to FARC, including more than 700 surface-to-air missiles, thousands of guns, high-tech helicopters and airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers and missiles.

The lower Thai court said it rejected the U.S. extradition request because Thailand considers the FARC a political movement and not a terrorist group, and that extradition could not be granted for a political offense.

Thai prosecutors appealed the decision on Washington’s request. In February, U.S. prosecutors filed new charges in hopes of convincing reluctant Thai officials to extradite Bout despite Russia’s objections.

The new charges say Bout and his former business associate, Richard Chichakli, used a series of front companies to purchase two planes from U.S. companies in 2007, in violation of U.S. and United Nations sanctions. At the time, U.S. officials intervened to block the sale.

Russia, for its part, made great efforts to get Bout out of Thailand — and when that failed tried to make his stay more comfortable.

Both Washington and Moscow have accused the other of trying to win Bout’s release by bribing Thai officials — a common practice in a country where the judiciary is notoriously corrupt. Russia, which sold cheap oil to Thailand after Bout’s arrest and has talked of selling it fighter jets, summoned the Thai ambassador in Moscow at one point and the country’s foreign ministry demanded the case be investigated objectively and impartially.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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