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KIEV, September 26. /TASS/. Ukraine acts as a go-between in illegal transactions involving supplies of weaponry from the EU to African countries and to the Middle East, says a report released by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), News.lega. news agency said.
"Documents obtained by OCCRP reveal how Ukrainian authorities and companies have made the country a key node in a network that channels Soviet-style arms from Europe to Africa and the Middle East," the report said. "Many of those weapons originate in countries that are now EU members."
Its authors say that Techimpex, a private owned Ukrainian company that specializes in the sales, repairs and upgrading of weaponry systems, signed 26 weaponry transactions as a minimum to the tune of $ 29.5 mln. "These included millions earned through the weapons laundering scheme," the report indicated.
"The documents show that, in February 2016, Techimpex requested from SSEC, the arms export regulator, an extension of a licenc giving it the right to import armored vehicle parts from Army Trade, a private Polish firm, for the company’s ‘own needs’," the report said.
"This means the Polish company could send Techimpex weapons often labeled as "spare parts" using documents that indicated Techimpex as their final recipient."
But the weaponry did not stay in Ukraine. "Techimpex then sold the arms to Ukrinmash, the state arms exporter, and its parent company Ukrspecexport," the document said.
According to the OCCRP, Ukrinmash took a cut of between 9 and 17% and then sold them on to its African clients. "The shipping documents for 37 of the vehicles showed Ukraine as the original source of the weapons - effectively scrubbing their true origin," it indicated.
"The Techimpex papers show the company scouring Eastern Europe for arms and parts from producers in Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina," the OCCRP said. "They also show that the company sold weapons to African, Middle Eastern and Asian markets that included Ethiopia, Korea, Chad, the UAE and Uganda."
The report went on saying that In response to reporters' questions, a spokesperson from the Polish foreign ministry wrote that no licenses for exporting BRDM vehicles to Ukraine had been issued in 2014-2015, and that this included "fully assembled BRDM vehicles as well as their parts and components."
Since such export licenses have a validity period of 12 months, the spokesman continued, "the shipment on 21-24 December 2015 was perhaps illegal," and requested further information "to enable our special services to launch an appropriate inquiry."
Ukrainian officials declined to comment on the data obtained by the OCCRP.
Amnesty International said on Monday Ukrinmash was involved in supplies of weaponry to South Sudan - the fact standing at variance with arms trading agreements. The Ukrainian corporation rejected the information as untrue.