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Cyprus Companies Suspected in Supplying Military Gear to Russia Face US Sanctions

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Cyprus has found itself entangled in a network allegedly orchestrated by Belgian businessman Hans De Geetere, accused of supplying military equipment to the Russian army.

Cyprus Companies Suspected in Supplying Military Gear to Russia Face US Sanctions

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed sanctions on several Cypriot companies, including AHETEI LIMITED, ERINER LIMITED, LAR VORTO SERVICES LIMITED, and THE MOTHER ARK LTD, all registered at the same Larnaca address. The allegations shed light on a complex web of entities and individuals spanning Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands, raising concerns about the role of Cyprus in facilitating arms procurement for Russia.

Hans De Geetere, identified as a Belgian businessman with a history of involvement in the supply of equipment to Russia, stands at the center of this controversy. The US Treasury Department's announcement points out that De Geetere is a director of various companies in Belgium, Cyprus, and the Netherlands. His role involves coordinating the supply of electronics to Russia, including high-priority semiconductor devices known as "field-programmable gate arrays" (FPGAs), which Russia seeks for its armaments programs.

The interconnected network of entities associated with De Geetere spans across different countries, raising questions about the extent of collaboration and coordination in supplying military equipment to Russia. The Cypriot entities AHETEI LIMITED, ERINER LIMITED, LAR VORTO SERVICES LIMITED, and THE MOTHER ARK LTD seem to share a common address in Larnaca, indicating a potential nexus in their activities.

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The accusations suggest that De Geetere and his network attempted to ship electronics to Russia through transshipment points in Hong Kong, China, and Turkey. This strategy highlights the complexity of the operation and the deliberate efforts to conceal the flow of military equipment to Russia. The involvement of Cypriot companies, particularly Eriner Limited, under De Geetere's leadership, is emphasized in the allegations. Eriner is accused of coordinating electronics orders for Russia, including orders for integrated circuits found in Russian-made unmanned aerial vehicles recovered in Ukraine.

Lar Vorto, another Cypriot company, is shown to be on the board of several companies owned by De Geetere. Its role as a secretary in companies like Eriner, The Mother Ark, and Ahetei Limited suggests a close association with key players in the network. Additionally, Lar Vorto is implicated in collaborating with Hong Kong-based M and S Trading, further indicating the global reach of the network.

Ahetei Limited, a Cypriot company linked to Lar Vorto, reportedly sought to acquire US-sourced accelerometers, described as dual-use devices with aerospace and military applications. This revelation adds another layer to the accusations, highlighting the network's interest in acquiring specific technologies with potential military applications.

Hasa Nederland BV, a Netherlands-based company identified as a subsidiary of The Mother Ark and sharing a common address with European Trading Technology BV, adds an international dimension to the network. The involvement of entities based in the Netherlands further underscores the transnational nature of the operation.

The US Department of Justice has taken legal action against Hans De Geetere, filing two charges against him. Simultaneously, the Commerce Department has added De Geetere and five of his companies to its list of entities that US entities are prohibited from doing business with. These measures reflect a concerted effort to hold individuals and entities accountable for their alleged involvement in supplying military equipment to Russia.

The sanctions list issued by the US Treasury Department also includes 11 entities and 8 individuals linked to the regime of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. This broader scope of sanctions demonstrates the US commitment to addressing not only specific cases but also larger geopolitical concerns related to arms procurement and international relations.

The implications for Cyprus are significant, as the allegations suggest that companies based in Larnaca played a crucial role in facilitating the supply of military equipment to Russia. The interconnected nature of the network, involving Cypriot entities and their collaboration with individuals in different countries, raises questions about Cyprus's role in such operations.

Matt Miller, State Department spokesman, emphasized the US commitment to working with allies and partners to expose and degrade networks involved in Russian military procurement. The goal is to disrupt the Kremlin's access to tools used in its conflict with Ukraine. These actions align with broader diplomatic efforts to address security concerns and curb the influence of entities contributing to global instability.

The accusations against the Cypriot companies and their association with a broader network involved in arms procurement underscore the need for international cooperation in addressing transnational threats. The complexity of these operations requires coordinated efforts to prevent the misuse of global trade networks for illicit purposes.

In conclusion, the allegations against Cyprus-based companies and their connection to a network supplying military equipment to Russia reveal a complex web of activities with international implications. The involvement of a Belgian businessman, Hans De Geetere, adds another layer to the narrative, highlighting the need for robust measures to address such transgressions. The legal actions taken by the US government reflect a commitment to holding individuals and entities accountable for their alleged role in facilitating arms procurement for Russia. The broader context of sanctions against entities linked to the Lukashenka regime in Belarus further underscores the interconnected nature of geopolitical challenges and the importance of international cooperation in addressing them.

By fLEXI tEAM

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