Richard Chichakli, Viktor Bout’s financial right-hand-man, was flown to New York Friday after being extradited from Australia, federal prosecutors said. Chichakli faces four conspiracy counts and six wire fraud charges relating to an offshoot of the sting operation that landed Bout in federal prison for 25 years.
Chichakli is accused of using a shell corporation called Samar Airlines in an attempt to buy two Boeing planes from U.S. companies and wiring $1.7 million through American accounts to buy the planes. Prosecutors said Bout intended to use the planes to fly arms to narcoterrorists who turned out to be informants for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Treasury Department officials blocked the cash transfer when they discovered the company was tied to Chichakli and Bout. Both men had been under Treasury sanctions since 2005 as part of U.S. and U.N. assets freezes targeting fugitives and companies that aided Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. Bout was accused of arming the Taylor regime and Chichakli was accused of aiding Bout’s financial empire.
“With his extradition today to face charges for his flagrant violations of international sanctions and other crimes, he (Chichakli) will now face the same American justice Viktor Bout did,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
–Reuters, “A U.S-Syrian citizen accused of conspiring with jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has been extradited to New York from Australia to face charges he conspired to buy aircraft in violation of economic sanctions, federal prosecutors said on Friday.”