In 2000 and 2001, Slovakia was caught in the web of an international smuggling ring that supplied arms to Liberia, which is under a U.N. embargo. The Liberia arms embargo was initially established in 1992, following the outbreak of renewed fighting in that country’s 1989-1997 civil war. The embargo was kept in place as insecurity persisted and spread beyond Liberia’s borders. The 1992 embargo was replaced with a new, tighter embargo in 2001, intended to curb arms deliveries via Liberia to embargoed rebels in Sierra Leone. From mid-2000, Liberia itself began to slide back into civil war, one in which both sides committed war crimes and other serious human rights abuses.8 The activities of the arms traffickers who illegally supplied arms to Liberia were brought to light by a U.N. expert panel in an October 2001 report and later documents.9 The findings of the panel are presented below, as is additional information uncovered by Human Rights Watch.
This case demonstrates that transnational arms trafficking networks seek out countries with lax controls to carry out their deals, and that Slovakia, with its legal loopholes and poor monitoring of the arms trade, made a particularly vulnerable target. Suspected traffickers were able to carry out repeated deals without interference, even with assistance from government officials, by using the false pretext that they represented legitimate clients. The case thus also clearly suggests the steps needed for Slovakia to clamp down on illicit arms trafficking. As will also be discussed further below, some but not all of these steps have begun to be taken.
The U.N. panel found that a network of arms traffickers bypassed legal controls in several countries by using front companies, declaring false destinations, and providing forged documents. The arms dealers supplying Liberia arranged arms deals in Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, and most of these deals were completed before their illegal activities were exposed. The U.N. found that these arms dealers were linked to and operated closely with the air cargo companies of Victor Bout, featured as a major sanctions-buster in numerous U.N. reports.10
With respect to Slovakia, the U.N. panel found that people involved in this arms trafficking network illegally re-exported to Liberia 1,000 AK-47 assault rifles in November 2000 that Uganda had imported from Slovakia a few weeks earlier. The panel also found that the traffickers attempted to re-export from Uganda a second consignment of 1,250 small arms supplied by Slovakia. In a related case, examined in detail below, two Mi-24 combat helicopters from Kyrgyzstan were shipped to Slovakia to be repaired. The Mi-24 or “Hind” helicopter is a heavily armed helicopter gunship, and the U.N. panel found that Liberia was eager to obtain such equipment. One of the Mi-24s repaired in Slovakia was allowed to leave in August 2000, purportedly to be flown back to Kyrgyzstan. A second helicopter was intercepted in February 2001 as it was at the airport, prepared to leave Slovakia. The U.N. panel was unable to establish the ultimate destination of the first helicopter but strongly suspected it was illegally delivered to Liberia and asserted that the second helicopter, had it not been stopped, would have gone to Liberia as well. The U.N. found numerous indications for this, including that the arms brokering company, the air transport company, and the plane used for both shipments all played a role in other illegal arms deliveries to Liberia.
The panel’s report described that the then Kyrgyz military attaché in Moscow, Maj. Gen. Rashid Urazmatov, signed a contract with the Slovak repair company LOT (Letecke Opravovne Trencin, or Aircraft Repair Company Trencin), claiming to act on behalf of the government of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz authorities, however, said they had no idea about a repair contract and, to the contrary, had arranged to sell the helicopters to a Guinean company, Pecos Compagnie SA, in a deal arranged by Alexander Islamov, a Russian partner in that company.11 The helicopters purportedly were for the government of Guinea, according to the document supplied by Pecos that showed the ultimate purchaser of the weapons (a document known as an end-user certificate or EUC).12
EUCs are drawn up by national authorities, and there are no common international standards stipulating, for example, what information they should contain, for how long they remain valid, who is authorized to sign them, nor how they should be authenticated. As a result, unscrupulous arms dealers can readily prepare fake EUCs or enlist corrupt government officials to issue EUCs for weapons shipments destined to third parties, thus providing false cover for illegal arms deals. In the case of the Kyrgyz helicopters, the document Islamov provided to the government of Kyrgyzstan proved to be a forgery. The U.N. found that the Pecos company was at the center of other illicit arms transactions involving Liberia, having supplied false end-user certificates in a number of cases to disguise Liberia’s arms purchases.13
The U.N. report went on to recite that Pecos was established in Guinea in 1997, had a Guinean citizen as statutory manager, and presented itself as a weapons procurer for the Guinean Ministry of Defense.14 The company, however, was a front company, according to the U.N., and its true origins were in Europe, not Africa. Pecos was established by a Slovak arms dealer, Peter Jusko, who also owned a Slovakia-based arms trading company, Joy Slovakia, established in 1994.15 Joy Slovakia was active in the arms trade from Central and Eastern Europe.16 Investigations by several law enforcement agencies from 1997 forced it to curtail its activities somewhat and led to the creation of Pecos as a successor company.17 The business partners involved in Joy Slovakia and/or Pecos included arms dealers from Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Russia, and Ukraine, not to mention business associates in other countries.18
A Human Rights Watch investigation added to what was already known about the helicopter case, particularly with respect to the involvement of the Slovak individuals and the Slovak government. The findings, described in detail below, cover several topics. They highlight the legal loophole that opened the door to abuse, describe the previously unknown role of Slovak military officials in facilitating the deal, and make clear the Kyrgyz general’s wider interest in negotiating weapons contracts in Slovakia, with success in at least one other case. The case study offers details about the helicopter repair contract that was concluded, including transport and payment arrangements. It also touches on how the ruse was uncovered and explains the circumstances in which the helicopter was detained and the many efforts to release it. Finally, it notes challenges to the criminal prosecution opened in the case.
Key to the fiasco was a loophole in Slovak law under which the arms deal with Kyrgyzstan did not require approval from Slovakia’s arms-export licensing commission. At that time, and until the loophole was closed in December 2001 in reaction to this scandal (see The Evolution of Slovakia’s Arms Trade Controls, below), arms deals were exempt from licensing requirements if the transaction was for repair or refurbishment. As a result, no license application was filed for deals involving repair or upgrading of military equipment from abroad; no end-user certificate was required; and no document authentication or checks on the destination were performed. Arms traffickers who shipped weapons to Slovakia for “repair” and then “returned” them could thus avoid import and export regulations. In essence, the sole control on such trade was through customs checks at the country’s frontiers and civil aviation controls in the case of delivery by air.
In principle, an added, if thin, layer of control applies for state-owned companies, whose activities are overseen by the Ministry of Defense (MOD). LOT, the Trencin-based aircraft repair company that entered into a contract to repair the helicopters, is state-owned.19
In this case, as it happened, the Slovak MOD was heavily involved. The accounts of LOT representatives and MOD officials make clear that two Slovak military officials played a key role by introducing Maj. Gen. Urazmatov, the Kyrgyz military attaché in Moscow, to the repair company. After being contacted by Urazmatov, the Slovak military attaché in Moscow, Maj. Gen. Milan Podhorani, asked a MOD colleague in Bratislava to help the Kyrgyz official negotiate arms contracts in Slovakia. On that basis, the then-director of a MOD office responsible for surplus material, Peter Harustiak, met with Urazmatov and arranged to introduce him to representatives of the Slovak aircraft repair company, LOT. Urazmatov’s meeting with the director and commercial director of LOT took place during the International Defense Equipment Exhibition (IDEE) arms fair in Trencin, Slovakia, in early May 2000. LOT’s representative in Moscow also met Urazmatov, both at the time of the arms fair and in a subsequent meeting. Podhorani, the Slovak military attaché, helped arrange that introduction.20
Both MOD officials met with Urazmatov again in June 2000, in Harustiak’s office at MOD headquarters in Bratislava, and again and in the fall of that year, in Podhorani’s office in Moscow, located in the Slovak embassy.21 Further meetings may also have been held. LOT representatives said they viewed as sufficient the recommendation of Slovak officials and did not feel it was necessary or appropriate for them to perform further checks or to request the Slovak government do so.22 The Slovak military officials, for their part, maintain that at the time they made these introductions they believed they were dealing with a counterpart in the Kyrgyz government, and only learned later that the brokering company Pecos was behind the deal.23
The Slovak MOD was informed at the highest level of Urazmatov’s arms dealings in the country, and from a relatively early stage, but apparently took no precautions. On May 12, 2000, following the arms fair where he introduced Urazmatov to LOT, Harustiak prepared a report for the then minister of defense, Pavol Kanis, informing him that Urazmatov was in contact with Slovak military officials and intended to enter into an arms deal with LOT.24 Human Rights Watch was unable to learn whether military intelligence or other Slovak officials made inquiries into Urazmatov’s background, or that of Islamov, as would have been appropriate under the circumstances.25 Had they done so, they should have been able to readily learn that two years earlier, in 1998, the government of Ukraine had declared both men personae non grata for engaging in illegal mercenary recruitment activities there.26
The 1998 Ukrainian mercenary investigation centered on Joy Slovakia,27 the company registered in Slovakia that was the precursor to Pecos. Allegations of illicit arms trafficking and other criminal activity by persons involved in the company circulated from at least 1997 and were known by Slovak officials.28 For example, in April 1998 Ukrainian authorities informed their Slovak counterparts that Alexander Islamov was suspected of acting through Joy Slovakia to send Ukrainian mercenaries to Angola via Slovakia in 1997.29 Islamov, who for a time had a permit to reside in Slovakia, was a director of Joy Slovakia and was one of the Joy Slovakia partners who formed Pecos, which also earned a dubious reputation.30 Urazmatov reportedly acted as a “representative” of Joy Slovakia.31
From an early stage Urazmatov expressed interest in negotiating a number of arms deals in Slovakia. Urazmatov’s attendance at the May 2000 IDEE arms fair, at which he was accompanied by MOD official Harustiak, presumably allowed him the opportunity to make contact with a number of other arms companies, mostly from Slovakia, who were represented at the event.
A month earlier, in April 2000, he supplied the Slovak MOD with a long list of weapons he said Kyrgyzstan wished to obtain. These included twenty Mi-24 attack helicopters, 100 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, ten L-39 trainers, spare parts for fighter aircraft, machine gun and cannon ammunition, anti-aircraft missiles, and unguided air-to-ground rockets, as well as other weapons seemingly intended to equip an air force.32 (See Appendix 1, which is stamped by the Acquisition Authority of the Slovak Ministry of Defense and the Kyrgyz Delegation to the Military Cooperation Council of Commonwealth of Independent States. Urazmatov is identified on the same document as the Kyrgyz representative to the Military Cooperation Coordination Staff of CIS States.) He also provided a document purporting to show that he was authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Kyrgyz MOD with Slovak companies.33 (That document, printed on letterhead of the office of the defense minister and with what was purported to be the signature of the deputy defense minister, as well as the stamp of the Executive Office of the Kyrgyz MOD, is included as Appendix 2.) Notably, this authorization was drafted to permit negotiations with both aircraft and tank repair facilities, suggesting that he may have pursued contracts other than the one that came to light regarding the helicopter.34
Human Rights Watch learned that Urazmatov did arrange at least one further repair deal in Slovakia. Four infantry fighting vehicles, BMP-2s, were shipped for repair and upgrading by the state-owned Vojensky Opravarensky Podnik 027 (Military Repairs Company 027, or VOP 027), also located in Trencin. The then director of VOP 027, who responded to a query through the Slovak Ministry of Defense, said that all four had been seized and remained in Slovakia pending the completion of an investigation. He confirmed that Urazmatov arranged the deal and told the company at the time that the initial repair of four units constituted a trial run and if all went well further contracts for up to fifty more vehicles would follow.35 Peter Jusko, a Slovak partner in Pecos who was implicated in the helicopter deal (see below), said he had knowledge of this deal as well. He alleged that the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles were imported to Slovakia in October 2000, that Islamov also was involved in this deal using the Pecos name, and that Islamov obtained the BMP-2s in Kyrgyzstan.36
With respect to aircraft repair, LOT entered into direct negotiations with Urazmatov on the basis of the high-level introductions from Slovak military officials. At a meeting at LOT’s offices on June 2, 2000, the two sides agreed to a contract for the repair of two helicopters, which Urazmatov signed on behalf of the Kyrgyz MOD.37 The contract also envisioned that work on ten jet trainers would be undertaken, but ultimately this deal fell through.38
It later became apparent that Urazmatov’s authorization was not genuine. The Kyrgyz MOD said that it was unaware of any repair contract involving the helicopters, that it had not given Urazmatov permission to sign any such contract, and that it had in fact sold both helicopters to the Pecos company, so it had no ownership rights over them in any case.39 The contracts between Pecos and the Kyrgyz MOD dated back several years, to 1997 and 1998.40
The first helicopter, as reported by the U.N., was delivered in late June 2000 aboard an Ilyushin-76 registration number TL-ACU registered in the Central African Republic and operated under a charter contract for Centrafricain Airlines of Bangui.41 LOT representatives told Human Rights Watch that Islamov and Urazmatov arrived with the helicopter and brought with them a Ukrainian-speaking technical expert named Sokolov, who stayed to oversee the repair and help coordinate transportation arrangements.42
The repair performed on the helicopter was nominal, according to LOT. It was completed in a few weeks, at a cost of approximately $60,000.43 The U.N. documented that the same Il-76 TL-ACU returned to collect the helicopter on August 2, 2000. Where it went next is uncertain, but it did not return to Kyrgyzstan for some three weeks. When it did return, it departed again on a flight ostensibly bound for Guinea but that in fact, the U.N. determined, went to Liberia. The same plane, the U.N. reported, had been used for an illegal arms delivery to Liberia in May 2000.44
The second helicopter was dropped off on October 10, 2000.45 It was in worse condition and required more extensive repairs, which cost about $150,000.46 Even this, however, was only a fraction of what would have been required for a full general repair. The LOT representatives emphasized that, at the client’s request, repairs were kept to a bare minimum.
With respect to payment arrangements, LOT representatives stated that work on the first helicopter was paid in full, and that payment was made for the second helicopter, although in the latter case they did not recover extra expenses of some $10,000-$15,000 beyond the estimated price.47 The funds arrived in installments, LOT representatives recalled, two from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).48 Official documents show that one payment was issued in the amount of $88,974 and credited to LOT’s account at the Slovak Vseobecna Uverova Banka (also known as VUB Bank) branch in Trencin.49 The payment was made by Gulf Stream Ships (no further identifying information provided) using Emirates Bank International PJSC Dubai, from the United Arab Emirates.50 In addition, the U.N. indicated that it obtained copies of money transfers to LOT by the UAE-based company San Air General Trading.51 San Air has been identified by the U.N. as a front used by arms trafficker Victor Bout to arrange and also pay for illicit arms shipments,52 suggesting the possibility that the other company, Gulf Stream Ships, was also a Victor Bout front.53
Slovak officials halted the fraud on February 21, 2001, as the helicopter was at the airport awaiting the plane that came to collect it, but the deal had been under surveillance for at least a few weeks before that. About a month before the repair was complete, LOT’s director was asked to facilitate a visit to the plant by domestic and foreign intelligence services.54 He said that they told him they suspected the first helicopter had not been delivered to Kyrgyzstan, as specified in the repair contract.55 Media reporting suggested that the government was tipped off by British foreign intelligence, which accords with information available to Human Rights Watch.56
The company was not advised to cancel the deal, LOT representatives said, so they provided the available information about the contract to the visitors and proceeded as planned toward its completion. Under a provision of the contract for the helicopter deal, transport arrangements were the responsibility of the client. According to LOT representatives, Islamov took the lead in organizing the transport, working with the Ukrainian technical expert who stayed in Slovakia.57
The same Ilyushin-76, bearing registration number TL-ACU, was sent to collect the second helicopter. While the plane had been allowed to drop off and collect the first helicopter, apparently without any difficulty before the tip-off, this time Slovak civil aviation authorities checked details of the flight and, as reported by the U.N., found a number of inconsistencies and had to request further documentation before clearing the flight.58 The U.N. noted that the three companies in whose names permission for the flight was sought formed part of the arms transport network of Victor Bout, who, for example, owns Centrafricain Airlines.59 The U.N. described the Il-76 TL-ACU as “Victor Bout’s plane.”60
The day after Slovak civil aviation cleared the plane to travel to Slovakia, Slovak customs detained the helicopter shipment at the Sliac military airport near Trencin on suspicion that false customs information had been supplied.61 Documents obtained by Human Rights Watch indicate that the pilot for Centrafricain Airlines, Andrej Semikin, a resident of Uzbekistan, had declared that the plane was to deliver the helicopter to Kyrgyzstan, which Slovak officials knew by that time was not the case.62 The helicopter was seized and placed in storage. The plane and crew were allowed to leave, however, and the same plane soon traveled to Moldova, where an attempt was made to pick up two military helicopters, also presumably for delivery to Liberia, according to the U.N.63
One of the striking elements of this case is the length to which various parties went to try to secure the release of the helicopter. According to LOT, in a matter of a few days, Urazmatov visited the company and also met with customs and the Ministry of Defense, but he was not allowed to reclaim the helicopter.64 Next, Peter Jusko, the Slovak national who was Islamov’s partner in Pecos (and previously in Joy Slovakia, see text attached to footnote 15), made a series of efforts to release the helicopter.65 He described these in an interview with Human Rights Watch in which he strongly denied any wrongdoing in connection with this case and attributed the affair to Islamov (and, to a lesser extent, Urazmatov), whom he accused of operating a “shadow Pecos” without the knowledge or involvement of other company officers.66 According to Jusko, he intervened only after learning from a Guinean partner, Mohammed Yansané, that the Pecos name was mixed up with allegations of illegal arms trafficking to Liberia.67 Jusko faces criminal charges in connection with the case.68
According to both Jusko and LOT representatives, Jusko’s first attempt to obtain the helicopter was in April or May 2001, when he arrived at LOT and presented a copy of a Guinean EUC, as well as a power of attorney authorizing him to act on behalf of Pecos. LOT turned him away, explaining that the company would require proof that Pecos, rather than the Kyrgyz MOD, was the rightful owner of the helicopter.69
In his interview with Human Rights Watch Jusko related that in mid-2001 he tried again, but this time he sought to obtain the helicopter for a different client: Namibia. He made some inquiries in Slovakia on behalf of Namibia, and in late August 2001 Jusko helped coordinate the visit to Slovakia of the Namibian military attaché in Berlin. This person, Leonard Nambahu, said he represented the interests of the Namibian government in the matter of the helicopter. Jusko said he intervened after being contacted by a Turkish arms dealer who said that the helicopter had been legally purchased from Islamov for the Namibian Ministry of Defense.70 The Namibian Ministry of Defense did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s request for comment. Mr. Nambahu, contacted at the Namibian Embassy in Berlin, declined to comment on the matter without permission from his superiors.71
Jusko and Nambahu visited LOT on August 28, 2001, where they presented the company with an EUC dated March 28, 2001, purporting to indicate that the detained helicopter had been purchased from Kyrgyzstan via Pecos and was now the property of the government of Namibia.72 The text of the EUC, which contained a number of typographical or spelling errors (e.g., “Pacos,” rather than “Pecos”), promised that the helicopter “will be used solely by us and will not be re-exported to any other country.”73
On this basis, and again without performing or requesting further checks, LOT submitted an application for an export license for the helicopter, which was unsuccessful.74 LOT representatives acknowledged that the inability to prove the change in ownership of the helicopter remained an impediment to its resale.75 Looking back on the helicopter fiasco, LOT representatives said they had acted in good faith throughout, but that in hindsight they realized they should not have unquestioningly accepted the reliability of persons with whom they were doing business and the documents these people provided.76 They insisted, however, that they had no way to establish the credentials of their potential clients or the authenticity of the documents provided and instead depended on government authorities to perform such checks.77 Human Rights Watch was not able to establish if the Ministry of Defense conducted any checks, as would have been appropriate.78
There continues to be some confusion regarding the authenticity of the claim that the Namibian government had purchased the helicopter. The U.N. stated that a Namibian EUC they obtained dated March 28, 2001, (the same date as that presented to LOT) represented yet another forgery, as confirmed to them by Namibian authorities.79 The police investigator responsible for the case also asserted that the EUC presented in Slovakia was false.80 A senior Slovak official, however, was under a different impression. He said the MOD of Namibia made high-level official contacts to seek the release of the seized helicopter, which they indicated they had purchased at a reduced rate due to the complications of the case.81
Slovak authorities arrested Peter Jusko on November 29, 2001, and announced plans to prosecute him in connection with the helicopter deal. The Jusko arrest came the month after the release of the U.N. report that exposed Slovakia’s links to the international arms trafficking operation, but Slovak authorities insisted the move was independent of public and international pressure. They attributed the delay to a lengthy investigation by customs officials, which was followed by further police inquiries before the case could be passed to prosecutors for action.82
Jusko was charged with an attempt to contravene arms trading regulations.83 He was ordered released from custody by court decision in December 2001, and prosecutors (who in mid-2002 lost an appeal to that decision) said that they were unable to predict when the trial would begin.84 Criminal charges were also laid in the same case against Alexander Islamov, and against Maj. Gen. Rashid Urazmatov, who was removed from his post as the Kyrgyz military attaché in Moscow following attention to his role in the helicopter deal.85 Unlike Jusko, both were charged with actual, rather than attempted, breaches of the arms trade regulations.86
Some Slovak officials emphasized that in their view Slovakia was not at the center of illicit arms trafficking activities. Instead, they felt it simply had had the misfortune to be touched by a network operating from other countries.87 Particularly in light of this attitude, it is notable that the government nevertheless determined to arrest an accused Slovak arms dealer and initiate prosecution against him.
This case has international as well as national significance. Around the world, arms traffickers rarely pay a price for their illegal activities, but some prosecutions have been initiated. Where undertaken with seriousness, these offer the prospect of punishing those who flout national arms trade controls and breaking up the international networks that perpetuate such activities.88
To date, various signals suggest that the prosecution in Slovakia has not been given the seriousness it deserves and that a trial will be very late, if it comes at all. Customs and police investigators stated in April 2002 that there was no political will behind the Jusko prosecution and that political leaders seemed to be uninterested in the case and preoccupied with the elections set for September 2002, but that following the elections the situation might improve.89 As of this writing, however, Human Rights Watch remains concerned that insufficient attention and resources have been dedicated to the case, which as a result has proceeded very slowly.
No domestic investigative task force was created, as investigators indicated sometimes happened for high-profile cases in Slovakia. Nor was an international task force formed to aid in this complex case involving a transnational network. Instead, only one police investigator was assigned to the case, one who had other cases to cover simultaneously. After police reviewed thousands of documents seized in the case, the investigation hit a dead end. They said there was no capacity to undertake further inquiries without cooperation from other countries, which Slovak officials did not believe would be forthcoming or would simply take too long. This rationale, however, is called into question by the fact that Slovak authorities in January 2003 confirmed that no requests for legal assistance had been filed, nor were there plans at that time to prepare such requests.90 The case experienced a potential further setback when it was reassigned following the departure in late 2002 of the police investigator who had been working on it.91
Developments in 2003 are far from encouraging. In April 2003 the new investigator decided to put the prosecution on hold. His explanation was that the case against all three accused persons could not proceed until Islamov and Urazmatov had been questioned and this would not be possible until the two men had been located. The investigator declined to separate Jusko’s case from that of the other two defendants, stating that interrogations of those two suspects and other inquiries overseas were needed to establish the facts in the Jusko case. In June 2003 the prosecutor’s office upheld the investigator’s decision.92
At this writing, the case against Jusko remained focused on the attempted shipment of the second helicopter. Slovak officials acknowledged that an attempted crime would be hard to prove, that the persons involved had made efforts to cover their tracks, and that Slovakia had very little experience with prosecuting arms trafficking cases. It remained unclear if prosecutors would add charges related to the falsification of documents, the first helicopter that was allowed to leave Slovakia in mid-2000, or other alleged actual or attempted illegal arms deals carried out in Slovakia by persons involved in Pecos and/or Joy Slovakia. Slovak officials said they were making no effort to secure custody of Islamov and Urazmatov, nor did they request an international arrest warrant, as the expectation was that they should be tried in their countries of residence.93
The prosecutor noted in January 2003 that police had received “secret materials” from customs officials that might result in a broadening of the charges in this case. While he would not specify, these may relate to the deal for the repair of the four infantry fighting vehicles, about which Human Rights Watch independently learned.94
Peter Jusko told Human Rights Watch he intends to mount a vigorous defense. By his account, he is innocent of any wrongdoing. He asserted that he is being framed to take the blame for the misdeeds of Urazmatov and Islamov and to cover possible corruption in the Slovak MOD linked to this arms trade. Jusko questioned the evidence against him and the legality of his questioning and arrest.95 He also argued that Slovak authorities have ignored information that was in his favor.96
While seeking to distance himself from this arms trafficking operation, Jusko suggested that elements of the Slovak government knew more about it than they let on: “There is no black [market] trade with arms except small traffickers that smuggle weapons for example in their car. Arms trade is always done with the approval of one state or another. It is always possible [for governments] to check, to control, for example at the airports. And that is why also in Slovakia authorities must have known about the first helicopter that was exported.”97 Jusko expressed particular suspicion about the possible role of Russian and Slovak intelligence services.98
The Slovak Ministry of Defense has begun an internal investigation into the helicopter fiasco, including the role of military officials. The investigation was still underway as of late May 2002, according to a spokesperson for the military’s inspection office, who said he would comment only after it was completed.99 Human Rights Watch was unable to obtain any updated information about the status of that investigation.
To date, the only party to be found responsible for any wrongdoing has been LOT. Customs officials fined the company 2 million Slovak crowns (SKK), approximately $41,400, for not properly checking the consignee of the February 2001 helicopter shipment. The decision was challenged by the company, which has maintained that it relied on state authorities to perform any needed checks.100
Under the repair loophole, however, such contracts were exempt from normal licensing procedures. Inadequate legal controls, combined with lax attitudes on the part of the company and the Ministry of Defense and the direct assistance of some MOD officials, meant that no action was taken to detect and deter illicit arms transactions. The situation was such that Slovakia was an inviting target for arms traffickers seeking an easy place to do illegal deals—and get away with it.
8 “Back to the Brink: War Crimes by Liberian Government and Rebels—A Call for Greater International Attention to Liberia and the Sub Region,” A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 14, no. 4 (A) (May 2002).
9 United Nations, Report of the Panel of Experts pursuant to Security Council resolution 1343 (2001), paragraph 19, concerning Liberia (New York: United Nations, October 26, 2001), U.N. document S/2001/1015 (hereafter “Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia”). The panel has since issued further reports. See also Human Rights Watch, “No Questions Asked: The Eastern European Arms Pipeline to Liberia,” A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, November 15, 2001.
10 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia; Report of the Panel of Experts pursuant to paragraph 4 of Security Council resolution 1458 (2003), concerning Liberia (New York: United Nations, April 24, 2003), U.N. document S/2003/498. Regarding Victor Bout, see, for example, United Nations, Report of the Panel of Experts on Violations of Security Council Sanctions Against UNITA, U.N. document S/2000/203 (New York: United Nations, March 10, 2000); United Nations, Report of the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to Security Council resolution 1306 (2000), paragraph 19, in relation to Sierra Leone (New York: United Nations, December 20, 2000), U.N. document S/2000/1195; United Nations, Additional Report of the Monitoring Mechanism on Angola Sanctions, U.N. document S/2002/486 (New York: United Nations, April 26, 2002; and United Nations, [Second] Additional Report of the Monitoring Mechanism on Sanctions Against UNITA, U.N. document S/2002/1119 (New York: United Nations, October 16, 2002) (hereafter “Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on UNITA”).
11 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, paras. 231-232, 239.
12 Ibid, at para. 239.
13 Ibid, especially paras. 253-267.
14 Ibid, especially paras. 253-258.
15 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on UNITA, para. 35. See also, extract from the Slovak Companies Register, District Court Bratislava I.
16 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, para. 21. For the date of incorporation, see Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on UNITA, paras. 35-36. See also, extract from the Slovak Companies Register, District Court Bratislava I.
17 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, especially paras. 21, 254-261.
18 Ibid, especially paras. 264, 266, 267; Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on UNITA, paras. 35-36; extract from the Slovak Companies Register, District Court Bratislava I. For further information on Joy Slovakia, see below.
19 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo, Director, and Peter Chupac, Commercial Director, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002. They emphasized that state-owned arms companies are not required to obtain a preliminary approval from the MOD before concluding a contract with a foreign client. A senior MOD official also stated that in Slovakia state control over the arms companies was indirect, so the MOD considers the firms to be “state-controlled” rather than “state-owned.” Human Rights Watch interview with Rastislav Kacer, then State Secretary, Ministry of Defense, Bratislava, April 12, 2002.
20 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002; transcripts of testimony recorded by the two MOD officials named above, copies on file with Human Rights Watch. In the course of its investigation Human Rights Watch obtained copies of a considerable number of official documents related to the helicopter case. In the footnotes that follow, the documents are generally cited with reference to the category into which they fall: court documents (the indictment and the district and regional court decisions in the case); other legal documents (including formal decisions of the investigator and prosecutor); customs documents (such as correspondence between customs and LOT regarding the decision to detain the helicopter); sworn statements and transcripts of police questioning of witnesses (including those of several persons with direct involvement in the transaction, such as LOT representatives and MOD officials); and documents specifically related to the arms transaction in question (items such as Urazmatov’s shopping list and authorization, a document related to payments, an invoice, a cargo manifest, and an end-user certificate presented for the helicopter).
21 Transcripts of testimony recorded by the two MOD officials, November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
22 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
23 Harustiak, for example, testified that he did not meet Alexander Islamov, the Pecos partner who obtained the Kyrgyz helicopters, until after their repair in Slovakia was completed. When Harustiak and Islamov did meet, it was at the IDEX 2001 arms fair in the United Arab Emirates in April 2001. Sworn testimony to police, November 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
25 Human Rights Watch spoke to two Slovak officials familiar with the MOD’s own investigation into the case. The first, an MOD spokesperson, declined to offer any comment on the still pending investigation. (Human Rights Watch telephone communication with Jan Mojzis, deputy chief of the inspection department of the Slovak Ministry of Defense, May 27, 2002). The second person, a former MOD official, said he would have expected intelligence checks of Urazmatov and his documents to have been carried out at the time but could not confirm whether this had been the case. (Human Rights Watch interview, Bratislava, October 2002.)
26 “TV describes recruitment of Ukrainian mercenaries to fight in Africa,” ICTV Television (Kiev) via WNC, November 26, 2001. Another partner in Joy Slovakia (and later Pecos), Slovak national Peter Jusko, confirmed that Islamov and Urazmatov were barred from Ukraine for mercenary recruitment activities. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002.
27 Ukrainian government request to Slovak authorities for judicial assistance, dated April 28, 1998, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
28 Ibid; “Authorities were Aware of Illegal Arms Transactions for Two Years,” Slovenska Tlacova Agentura (Slovak News Agency, or SITA), November 23, 2001; and Tom Nicholson, “Arms Dealer to be Investigated,” Slovak Spectator, December 3-9, 2001.
29 Ukrainian government request to Slovak authorities for judicial assistance, dated April 28, 1998, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
30 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, especially paras. 253-267; Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on UNITA, paras. 35-36; extract from the Slovak Companies Register, District Court Bratislava I. Islamov traveled to Slovakia on a business visa and had a permit to reside in Slovakia that was valid from September 2000 to March 2001. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with a Slovak diplomat, February 13, 2002. Allegations of illegal activity by Islamov and other persons associated with Pecos and/or Joy Slovakia are described later in this report.
31 “TV describes recruitment of Ukrainian mercenaries…,” ICTV Television. Peter Jusko, Islamov’s partner in Joy Slovakia (and later Pecos), stated that Urazmatov had acted as the “diplomat” in deals Islamov arranged using the companies’ names. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002.
32 A copy of the list, dated April 11, 2000, is on file with Human Rights Watch.
33 Purported authorization, April 1, 2000, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
34 Urazmatov’s purported authorization, April 1, 2000, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
35 Human Rights Watch interview with then State Secretary Rastislav Kacer, Bratislava, October 15, 2002. Arms dealer Peter Jusko independently informed Human Rights Watch of the contract, which he said Urazmatov and Islamov had arranged. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002.
36 Human Rights Watch interviews with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002, and March 7, 2003; Peter Jusko’s communication with the U.N. investigative panel, October 12, 2001; and Jusko’s sworn statement to customs authorities, November 13, 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch. In these communications, Jusko said Islamov acted without the knowledge of his partners in Pecos.
37 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002. LOT representatives said that they could not recall with certainty, but they believed Islamov was also present at the time. Ibid; and statements recorded by LOT representatives, November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch. The U.N. panel’s report (at para. 239) gave the date of the contract as July 2, 2001, and refers to the Kyrgyz MOD as having made “contractual arrangements” with the Slovak MOD. Documents provided to Human Rights Watch, however, date the contract to June and make clear that it was signed by LOT. Various official documents, March, November, and December 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
38 LOT representatives expressed regret that this further work, which they estimated was worth $4-5 million, could not be undertaken after the seizure of the helicopter. Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
39 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, paras. 231, 239; customs report and testimony recorded by LOT representative, November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
40 The contracts were dated September 17, 1997, and November 18, 1998. Slovak criminal indictment, November 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch. The U.N. report (at para. 239) indicates that Islamov presented a Guinean EUC for the helicopters dated July 1, 1999. This suggests the Kyrgyz MOD may have agreed to sell the company the helicopters before an end-user was identified.
41 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, paras. 229-230, 240. The U.N. report states (at para. 229) that the plane arrived in Kyrgyzstan on June 26, 2000, to collect the helicopter. It arrived on June 27, 2000, according to Slovak records. Customs report, November 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch uses the spelling of the airline’s name as it appears in an industry listing (“Centrafricain”) except where quoting directly from the U.N. report, which uses “Centrafrican.” For company information, see entry in JP Airline-Fleets International, 1999/2000 edition(Zurich: Bucher & Co., Publikationen, 1999), p. 604.
42 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002; testimony recorded by LOT representatives, November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
43 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
44 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, paras. 218, 229, 240.
45 Customs report, November 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
46 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
48 Testimony by two LOT representatives, also supported by customs and payment documents, April and November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
49 Customs report and notification of payment, April and November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch. See also Pavol Santor, “The Weapons Trade: Our Taboo,” Narodna Obrodna (Bratislava) via WNC, December 7, 2001.
50 Customs report and notification of payment, April and November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
51 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, para. 241. The U.N. also reported that it obtained a bank document showing payment of $20,000 “for a contract between a company in the Slovak Republic and Victor Bout’s company, Centrafrican Airlines.” Ibid, para. 278.
52 Ibid., especially para. 22.
53 The U.N. has noted the existence of a number of Victor Bout front companies with addresses in the UAE. See, for example, Ibid., paras. 233, 238.
54 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
56 “Renegade Russian accused of arming bin Laden,” Agence France-Presse(AFP), February 18, 2002. See also, Peter Kresanek, “‘Interest’ in the arms trade,” Hospodasrky Dennik (Bratislava), January 28, 2002, translated by Human Rights Watch.
57 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
58 The U.N. report recounts these inconsistencies. The flight permissions were requested by a Moldovan company, MoldTransavia, but, when they checked, Slovak civil aviation learned that the airline was authorized to operate passenger flights, not a cargo plane such as the Il-76. When they turned down MoldTransavia’s request for landing rights, they were contacted within a week by Centrafricain Airlines (charterer of the earlier flights) for permission to operate the same flight using the same plane, TL-ACU. Again, the details did not match up. The insurance document MoldTransavia had provided, dated December 2000, showed that the plane was insured to MoldTransavia and UAE-based San Air, but made no mention of Centrafricain. Centrafricain, on the other hand, produced an insurance certificate that showed the plane as insured to all three companies as of December 2000. Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, paras. 233-238.
59 Ibid.,paras. 268-269.
60 Ibid., para. 240. At least some twenty-five Centrafricain Airlines planes that were fraudulently registered continued to be used despite efforts by officials from the Central African Republic to alert other countries to this situation and to the fact that they had dissolved Centrafricain Airlines in the Central African Republic in February 2000. Ibid, para. 284. According to the U.N., the plane Il-76 described above was seen in various locations since July 2000, among them Sliac and Bratislava in Slovakia, Kampala (Uganda), Brazzaville (Republic of Congo), Tripoli (Libya), and Monrovia (Liberia). Ibid, para. 291. Previously the same plane was registered in Swaziland as 3D-RTX. JP Airline-Fleets International, 1999/2000 edition, p. 604. Following the dissolution of Centrafricain Airlines in the Central African Republic, the plane was subsequently registered in Equatorial Guinea before that country deregistered Victor Bout’s planes in 2002.
61 The U.N. report says that the helicopter was detained on February 22, 2001 (at para. 238), but official Slovak documents give the date as a day earlier. Customs documents, March 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
62 Customs documents, March and November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch. The flight permission requested by Centrafricain also indicated the plane was to land in Slovakia to collect the helicopter and then return to Kyrgyzstan. Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, para. 238.
63 Ibid., paras. 241-252.
64 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
65 Ibid; Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, paras. 232, 256; Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002.
66 Jusko said that he and Islamov parted ways in late 1998, but that Islamov refused to step down from the company or to hand over company documents and stamps. Jusko also denied that he was responsible for any wrongdoing in connection with other deals carried out in the name of Pecos, including one, described below, in which someone signed on his behalf when arranging the illegal re-export of Slovak weapons from Uganda to Liberia. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002. In a later interview, Jusko said that he had been unaware of the mercenary recruitment allegations against Islamov when he was questioned on the matter in 1998. He also reiterated that Islamov acted without his knowledge in organizing arms deals in the Pecos name, and added that he had asked another former colleague to leave Pecos for the same reason. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, March 7, 2003.
67 According to Jusko, Yansané learned of the allegations when an American and a British citizen whom he took to be intelligence agents asked him about the circumstances surrounding the detained helicopter.
68 Slovak criminal indictment, November 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch. For details, see below.
69 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002. Jusko, who maintained the EUC was authentic, told Human Rights Watch he requested the document from Yansané after the helicopter was detained. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002. The U.N. panel, however, verified with Guinean authorities that they never procured any weapons from Pecos, including the helicopter in question. See Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, especially paras. 158, 239, 247, 258.
70 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002. For further accounts of the mid-2001 attempt by Jusko and Nambahu to transfer the helicopters to Namibia, see, for example, testimony of LOT representatives, November 2001, copies on file with Human Rights Watch. Jusko also raised the alleged Turkish connection in correspondence with U.N. investigators on October 12, 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
71 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Leonard Nambahu, Namibian military attaché in Berlin, March 2003.
72 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002. Jusko maintained that the EUC, whose authenticity was later challenged, was presented by Nambahu alone, contradicting the testimony of a LOT representative who was at the meeting. Testimony of a LOT representative, November 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
73 Purported Namibian end-user certificate, March 28, 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch.
74 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002. The company, which attached a detailed explanation to the application, reported that the secretariat to the licensing commission at the ministry of economy declined to recommend it for approval.
75 Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002.
78 As noted at footnote 25, above, Human Rights Watch spoke to two Slovak officials familiar with the MOD’s own investigation into the case.
79 Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, para. 253. The U.N. panel also reported on a different Pecos-organized arms deal in which Namibia was one of the (falsely) declared destinations for two helicopter gunships from Moldova almost assuredly bound for Liberia. Ibid., especially para. 244.
80 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Vladislav Vavrik, at the time an investigator with the Regional Police Investigation Authority, Banska Bystrica, April 17, 2002.
81 Human Rights Watch interview with then State Secretary Rastislav Kacer, Bratislava, October 15, 2002. Following the seizure of two helicopter gunships in Moldova on suspicion they were bound for Liberia, the government of Namibia also stepped in, in this case to arrange to lease the helicopters from Moldova. Report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Liberia, para. 252.
82 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Vladislav Vavrik, Regional Police Investigation Authority, Banska Bystrica, April 17, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Josef Luteran, Director, Division of Drugs and Hazardous Materials, and Lubomir Skuhra, Head of Hazardous Materials Investigation Department, Division of Drugs and Hazardous Materials, Customs Directorate, April 22, 2002.
83 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Bedlovic, Regional Prosecutor, Peter Odalos, Deputy Regional Prosecutor, and Jozef Polonyi, Prosecutor responsible for the Jusko case, Office of the Regional Prosecutor, Banska Bystrica, April 17, 2002. Jusko was charged with an attempt to violate “regulations on handling of controlled goods and technologies,” under Section 124a(2) and 124c(1) of the Slovak Criminal Code.
84 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Jozef Polonyi, Prosecutor responsible for the Jusko case, Office of the Regional Prosecutor, Banska Bystrica, January 10, 2003. Jusko told Human Rights Watch that he had no intention to flee and would prove his innocence in court. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, April 21, 2002.
85 Islamov and Urazmatov were charged with violating “regulations on handling of controlled goods and technologies,” under Section 124a(2) and 124c(1) of the Slovak Criminal Code. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Bedlovic, Peter Odalos, and Jozef Polonyi, Office of the Regional Prosecutor, Banska Bystrica, April 17, 2002
87 Human Rights Watch interview with Josef Luteran and Lubomir Skuhra, Customs Directorate, April 22, 2002.
88 Italy, for example, has shown interest in prosecuting arms traffickers and as of late 2002 had at least two prosecutions in progress against accused international arms traffickers.
89 Human Rights Watch interviews, April 2002, and further communication by telephone, September and October 2002.
90 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Jozef Polonyi, Prosecutor responsible for the Jusko case, Office of the Regional Prosecutor, Banska Bystrica, January 10, 2003. Human Rights Watch is unaware whether Slovak authorities have issued a request through Interpol for suspects in other countries to be questioned.
91 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Vladislav Vavrik, Regional Police Investigation Authority, Banska Bystrica, April 17, 2002, and further communication by telephone, August 8, 2002; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with the newly-assigned police investigator, January 8, 2003.
92 Legal documents filed in the Jusko case, dated April, May, and June 2003, copies on file with Human Rights Watch.
93 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Vladislav Vavrik, Regional Police Investigation Authority, Banska Bystrica, April 17, 2002, and further communication by telephone, August 8, 2002; Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Bedlovic, Peter Odalos, and Jozef Polonyi, Office of the Regional Prosecutor, Banska Bystrica, April 17, 2002.
94 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Jozef Polonyi, Office of the Regional Prosecutor, Banska Bystrica, January 10, 2003.
95 Jusko said that Slovak prosecutors were acting on the basis of the U.N. panel’s report, which he felt unfairly portrayed him and, in his view, offered insufficient basis for legal action. He also argued that customs investigators, who questioned him prior to his arrest, were only legally entitled to question him about customs arrangements (in which he said he was not involved) and that their summons to him falsely stated they had wider authority. Jusko’s argument that his arrest was illegal rests on it apparently having been made by a special armed customs squad prior to that squad being granted an official mandate. Jusko provided Human Rights Watch with a copy of the Customs Authority’s decision on the formation of the unit, dated April 4, 2002. Questions about the mandate of the unit have been raised publicly. See “Armed Customs officers and policemen cooperate only little,” SME, June 6, 2002. Human Rights Watch is not in a position to comment on the legality of Jusko’s arrest.
96 Jusko referred in particular to information he provided about Islamov’s activities under the Pecos name. For example, Jusko informed a U.N. investigator about Islamov’s BMP repair deal in October 2001 and Slovak authorities the following month. He was not questioned by the Slovak authorities about that case until October 2002. At that time he declined to provide further information, citing as his reason the opening of a criminal case against him. Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, March 7, 2003. Human Rights Watch has on file copies of Jusko’s October 2001 correspondence with the U.N. investigator; his November 13, 2001, sworn statement to customs authorities; the October 2, 2002 summons for him to appear for questioning by customs authorities; and his October 14, 2002, sworn statement to customs authorities.
97 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Jusko, Bratislava, March 7, 2003.
99 Human Rights Watch telephone communication with Jan Mojzis, Slovak Ministry of Defense, May 27, 2002. The two MOD officials who introduced Islamov to the LOT aircraft repair company were not available for comment. Podhorani, contacted by Human Rights Watch, said he was not able to comment without authorization from his superiors. (Human Rights Watch telephone communication with Milan Podhorani, Slovak military attaché in Moscow, May 28, 2002.) As of November 2003, Harustiak had not replied to a May 26, 2002, letter seeking comment. The former head of the office responsible for surplus military property, Harustiak left the ministry following a major reorganization in late 2001. Human Rights Watch email communication with then State Secretary Rastislav Kacer, May 24, 2002.
100 Customs decision, November 2001, copy on file with Human Rights Watch; Human Rights Watch interview with Anton Zigo and Peter Chupac, LOT, Trencin, April 24, 2002. All monetary figures have been converted to U.S. dollars using the exchange rates that prevailed at the time of the transactions. The conversions were performed using an online currency converter available at http://www.oanda.com/converter/fxhistory (retrieved October 18, 2002).