The Serbian arms company Valir DOO which exported weapons on the ill-fated Meridian Air Cargo flight on Saturday is at the center of new shocking revelations. The Ukrainian cargo plane crashed in northern Greece, killing all eight crew members on board.
White substance of unknown origin
Following the tragedy the Greek authorities warned about “white substance of unknown origin” at the crash site. A fire brigade official told reporters that firefighters “felt their lips burning” and white dust was floating in the air. The substance has been examined and not found to be radioactive or biological material hazardous to public health, the local mayor Philippos Anastasiades informed.
The plane had been chartered to transport weapons from Nish to Bangladesh with two scheduled technical stops: in Amman (Jordan) and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). Both of them are countries bordering on war zones – Syria and Yemen.
According to the Serbian defense minister Neboisha Stefanovich, the dangerous cargo included 11.5 tons of illuminating mortar shells and mortar shells for training for the Bangladeshi army and were exported by the Serbian company Valir DOO.
Who is the real owner?
Serbian media have asked if the real owner of Valir DOO is the Serbian arms dealer Slobodan Tesic, even though his name is not listed anywhere. Tesic has been described by the U.S. Treasury Department as being “among the biggest dealers of arms and munitions in the Balkans.”
He has been under US sanctions since December 2017. Tesic spent nearly a decade on the United Nations (UN) Travel Ban List for violating UN sanctions against arms exports to Liberia in 2003. In order to secure arms contracts with various countries, according to the US Treasury Department, Tesic would directly or indirectly provide bribes and financial assistance. Tesic took potential clients on high-value vacations, paid for their children’s education at western schools or universities, and used large bribes to secure contracts.
In 2012 after the Serbian Progressive Party came to power the new government managed to remove Slobodan Tesic from the United Nations blacklist. The Minister of Foreign Affairs even accorded him with a diplomatic passport without him being a diplomat.
In 2019 The United States imposed sanctions on nine of his associates. In a statement released on December 9, the Treasury Department said that the nine “have acted or purported to act for or on behalf” of Tesic, who has been on a U.S. sanctions list and has had his assets frozen .
Coincidentally, the company Valir DOO was registered just two weeks after the new sanctions against Tesic and his team were imposed. The company’s founder and director was Stefan Cupkovic. According to information obtained from the Serbian Trade registry, he was also the representative of Elvante LTD in Serbia whose director was Goran Andric (one of the nine Serbians linked to Tesic and blacklisted by the US).
Another company represented by Stefan Cupkovic, which is indirectly linked to Slobodan Tesic, is Lusor DOO. Its address is the same as the address of Elvante LTD. According to Serbian media, the real owner of the company Lusor DOO, is a Yemeni citizen with a Serbian passport, Khaled Hamed, with close links to Slobodan Tesic.
On October 4, 2021 Tunisia issued an international arrest warrant for Slobodan Tesic on suspicion that he participated in corruption and “money laundering” activities.
The US deals
While Tesic has been under US sanctions meaning that he cannot deal with any company in the US, Valir DOO has exported 249 tons of Serbian weapons to the US in 2021 and 2022, according to US Imports data and public records. In 2020 alone the company declared 15.4 million USD annual revenue just a year since its incorporation.
From 9 November 2021 to 20 June 2022 Valir DOO exported 98.7 tons of cartridges (5,56×45 mm and 9×19 mm) by sea from Germany to the US. The buyer of all 6 shipments was the American company Erie Ordnance Depot LLC.
Another American company Nemo Arms Inc. imported 150 tons of ammunition in 2021 with the exporter being again Valir DOO. The cargo was transported by sea from Bar, Montenegro to Wilmington, US.
On 2 February 2021 Valir DOO exported 10 million pieces of 5.65x45mm bullets to the US company NEMO Arms Inc.
These cartridges are manufactured by Prvi Partizan-Serbia and they are NATO standard. Prvi Partizan is a state-run arms factory. It is listed on the company’s website among the Valir’s main partners along with four other Serbian state arms manufacturers and the Serbian ministry of defense.
Despite being under US sanctions Tesic registered a company in the US
In 2019 Slobodan Tesic registered a company in the US – Style Cupid Inc. There is no information as to what activities this company has had.
Style Cupid Inc. became inactive on 31 March of this year. According to the document the company was registered at 5519 N MILITARY TRAIL STE 1016, BOCA RATON, Florida, 33496.
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