A Belgian intermediary arrested for his involvement in the trade in weapons of war

The sayings were held by Thierry Lakhanisky in 2016: “When you have a vocation to fight against death, misery and war, facing endless legal proceedings sometimes makes me think of Don Quixote facing the windmills. But I do not despair !

At the time, his company Skytech was struggling, ultimately successfully, with bankruptcy proceedings. Skytech was then presented as a company with an essentially humanitarian vocation working for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN or even Médecins Sans Frontières.

Tuesday morning, the entrepreneur based in Lasne was arrested in connection with an arms brokerage file. He was charged and placed under an arrest warrant. It would have played a role of intermediary for the transport of weapons of war bound for countries of Africa and the Middle East. Did Thierry Lakhanisky facilitate the delivery of weapons to countries sanctioned by an embargo? Yes, according to investigation elements collected by the police-justice editorial staff of RTBF.

Through the voice of his lawyer Emmanuel De Wagter, Thierry Lakhanisky contests and affirms “no transaction appears to have been executed”. According to the lawyer, the businessman “would have acted as a consultant in transactions of military aircraft and helicopters to countries in Africa, the Middle East and the United States”.

A consulting role and activities carried out today from abroad, according to his lawyer

Investigators also suspect breaches of the rules governing arms brokering activities in Belgium. The man would not be duly registered as a broker and would therefore not be authorized to carry out intermediary missions from Belgian territory.

For this part, the lawyer affirms that his client “would have had the valid licenses for such activities until the bankruptcy of his Belgian company in February 2022 and then exercised without being worried”. The suspect denies currently carrying out irregular activities in Belgium and would carry out his activities in this file “from abroad, as director and shareholder of a foreign company”.

According to our information, the infringement period used would cover the summer of 2021, a period during which Thierry Lakhanisky made a trip to Ethiopia, preceded by a trip to Russia. “essentially to participate in a reputable air show”, explains Emmanuel De Wagter.

An address book as thick as a telephone book

The investigations are being carried out by the federal judicial police in Brussels, an investigating judge from Nivelles and the federal prosecutor’s office. The latter refuses to comment on the ongoing investigation.

In the world of intermediaries, Thierry Lakhanisky has built up a solid reputation over the years and a particularly extensive address book allowing him to intervene in different types of negotiations throughout the world. Armies, security and intelligence services, close to governments…: the man maintains contacts at the highest level in several countries. The company Skytech, for example, would have contributed to the release of people detained in Côte d’Ivoire in the case of toxic waste dumped by the ship Probo Koala in 2006.

A 2003 law to regulate arms brokering

In 2003, Belgium adopted a law modifying the texts of 1991 in order to better control arms brokers, that is to say the intermediaries who facilitate and organize transactions. The activity is legal, but many international reports and investigations highlight the central position of these intermediaries in illicit trafficking and embargo violations.

The 2003 law established a system of prior license issued to anyone wishing to trade in arms, a kind of authorization to exercise the profession. To grant a license, the Minister of Justice verifies that the intermediary, approved as an arms dealer, fulfills the required morality conditions. Police, prosecutor, State Security and Customs are consulted.

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