Luxury extradition of Veaceslav Platon: 2 charter flights and unknown overseers
Charter Gulfstream G200 Galaxy, Number T7-PRM lands on International Airport Chisinau on August 29 2016, at 22:00. Controversial businessman Veaceslav Platon, being handcuffed and extradited urgently from Ukraine, steps off the plane. This scene is followed by the passengers of another charter flight, that landed within 12 minutes on Chisinau International Airport. The takeoff distance from Juliani Airport in Kiev of both planes was 7 minutes.
Veaceslav Platon is criminally investigated for fraud and money laundering in huge proportions in "Russian laundromat". On July 25th, an arrest warrant for 30 days was issued on the name of Veaceslav Platon and he is wanted internationally. The businessman was arrested in Kiev in just a few hours and was placed in custody. A month later, on August 30, the Prosecutor General announced by telegraph that the businessman was extradited. Neither the Prosecutor nor the General Police Inspectorate (IGP), institution involved in the extradition, did not provide details.
In the first hearings in Chisinau, Veaceslav Platon offered more information about how he was extradited. Controversial businessman informs judges that he was brought to Chisinau, at midnight, by a luxury charter flight and requests magistrates to clarify who paid the fares of the trip. "I was arrested for three million dollars in Ukraine. Exactly three million were paid for arresting me and bringing me to Moldova. Do you know how I was brought here? By a charter flight. A plane with a silver wing, which costs about 40,000 euros. I was caught and brought here. Understand? They rented a private plane with 12 seats ", Platon tells judges in the hearing from 7 September 2016, according to an audio recording of the meeting, which came into possession of journalists from NewsMaker.
Audio recording of Veaceslav Platon at the Court of Appeal Chisinau
Platon, extradited by charter flight because the Police missed the regular flight
An official reply of IGP provided upon a request of the Center for Investigative Journalism writes that the businessman was transported by plane for the safety of Police employees and of the businessman, "considering the conflict in the neighboring country". The reply signed by Alexandru Panzari, head of PGI confirmed that the suspect was transported by a charter flight because the Ukrainian authorities delayed the escorting and they missed the regular flight. "Escorting was delayed at the airport in Ukraine for extraditing him to employees of Moldovan police and they missed the roundtrip tickets", said IGP.
The Police addressed the company "SRL Hanling LTD" for contracting a private flight, which helped the group to come to Chisinau by " alternative flight" in exchange for 1,690 dollars. "Accordingly, to exclude violation of the rules of extradition procedure, the superior of the escort group informed the leadership of IGP about the situation, and they agreed on extradition by alternative flight against the sum of 1,690 dollars, reads invoice no. 3583 of 08.29.2016 of the Company SRL Hanling LTD. The state budget paid 63.124 lei for delegating employees in this extradition mission", reads the reply of IGP.
Coincidentally or not, but the company’s name was wrong in the information received from the General Police Inspectorate. Such a company does not exist, so, we insisted to talk with employees of the Department of Finance of IGP. They checked the contract and bank statements and confirmed that it is about a company with a similar name - "ICS Handling".
Center for Investigative Journalism’s reply from the General Police Inspectorate
They applied to an intermediary company
ICS Handling is a Ukrainian company with representative offices in Juliani and Borispol’s airports, but the company is not a flight operator, it just arranges the flights and provides assistance on planes’ board. According to the company’s statement from the registers of Ukraine, the company provides booking services, commercial subsidiary services, support for air transport, provides information and develops professional, scientific and technical activities. "The company offers a wide range of services of airline ground support. Maintenance is carried out at all airports in Ukraine. Agents of Handling ICS are always ready to solve any problem or remove difficulties which may arise during servicing at the airport. After the plane took off, the company employees continue to monitor the flight so as to respond quickly to any problems", reads a description of ICS Handling.
In summer months, the plane of the company Ukrainian International Airlines took off from the airport Borispol in the evening at 19.40 and landed in Chisinau within an hour. Thus, the police could decide within 2 hours on the extradition by a charter flight and find available plane, through intermediaries.
Two charter flights to Chisinau
Veaceslav Platon's lawyers confirmed that the businessman arrived in Moldova on August 29, at about 22.30. According to information obtained by reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism, 2 charter flights from the Juliani ‘s Kiev airport landed at that time on Chisinau International Airport, at 7 minute take off distance. This information is confirmed by MoldATSA. In an official reply received by CIJM, the institution informs us that the two planes took off from Kiev to Chisinau and after passengers left the planes on Chisinau International Airport, these planes went to different directions. One returned to Kiev and another one to Antalya, Turkey.
Gulfstream G200 Galaxy, a luxury airplane with ten passenger seats landed first on runway. As Veaceslav Platon said in his speech before the magistrates of the Court of Appeal, the plane had silver wings. According to data from the generation and processing flight system of CFMU of Eurocontrol, the flight was operated by ICF, a big foreign company that provides consulting in various fields, from business to health. Also, the company provides air transport services. Information from CFM system of Eurocontrol reveals that the aircraft, with the registration number T7-PRM, used for this flight is owned by another company, ICS Aero SM SRL. The same information is confirmed by the Database search of planes "Airframes.org" running that ICS Aero SM SRL would have bought the luxury aircraft in March 2016. ICS Aero SM SRL is a Ukrainian company which has its office at Juliani Airport in Kiev.
A simple search on the website of the company that provides air transport services, including charter flights, shows that the company really owns Gulfstream G200 Galaxy aircraft, VIP charter category. We tried to order a flight from Kiev to Chisinau. ICS Aero operator replied upon our request and said that an hour of flight is about 3800-4000 euros. This sum is added other airport fees and fuel prices. Flight from Kiev to Chisinau takes about an hour and the rule for hiring charter plane is that you pay for the round trip of the plane. Thus, a flight from Kiev to Chisinau by this aircraft costs at least 7,600 euros, plus service charge and other fees.
Secret trip of Porosenco
Veaceslav Platon's trip by Gulfstream G200 Galaxy of the company ICS Aero SM SRL is not the only outrageous flight of the aircraft. This summer, the plane was in the attention of the press in Ukraine, after they found that Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko could fly in secret by this plane to his villa in Spain. According to Ukrainian media with reference to sources in the State Aviation Service of Ukraine, Poroshenko flew from Airport Juliani by Gulfstream G200 Galaxy, registration number T7-PRM, on the night of July 22. Destination of this charter flight was Malaga, Spain. Poroshenco owns a villa around this city on the Mediterranean coast, write Ukrainian journalists. Several MPs from Poroshenco Bloc faction flew by this plane, writes an investigation of the bureau of Radio Free Europe station and TV channel "UA Pervîi" in Ukraine.
We do not know if there is a relationship between the Ukrainian president and company ICS Aero SM SRL. It is obvious that both ICS Aero SM SRL and ICS Handling were founded by Gheorghi Avanesov. Previously, magazine Forbes in Ukraine presented Avanesov as experienced person in air field, and he is the founder of Anda Air, recently launched on the market.
Scheme from the civil aircraft register of Ukraine that reveals the connection of companies founded by Gheorghi Avanesov, including ICS Hanling, ICS Aero SM SRL, Anda Air
Mysterious race by aircraft of “grey cardinal” in Ukraine
The second charter flight that accompanied the plane that was used to extradite Platon, was operated by aircraft Raytheon 390 Premier, with Ukrainian matriculation number UR-USA. According to the state Register of civil planes in Ukraine, the aircraft Raytheon 390 Premier, called Hawker Beechcraft 390, matriculation number UR-USA is used by Business Jet Travel operator (Бізнес Джет Тревел - ucr.), but it is owned to the company Sky Center Holding Corp., off-shore in Panama. The plane was registered in Ukraine on May 11, 2016.
Extract from the civil aircraft register of Ukraine
According to the press in Ukraine, company Business Jet Travel has connections with the Ukrainian MP Serghei Levocikin, member of the Opposition Bloc. In the period 2010-2014, Levocikin was head of the Administration of the president Victor Ianukovici, and previously served as councilor of all Ukrainian presidents. Levocikin is nicknamed by the Ukrainian press as „grey cardinal”, he is one of the richest businessmen of the Ukraine. According to the website censor.net.ua, Serghei Levocikin and his sister Iulia Levocikin would own many off-shore companies and one of them is Business Jet Travel. In the period of Ianukovici’s government, this unknown company in Ukraine won many state tenders in air transport services provided to state institutions. The most important agreements were signed with Naftogaz. Aircraft Raytheon 390 Premier of the company was used for many private flights of Ukrainian officials, including of some MPs from „Poroshenco’s Bloc”, reveals an investigation carried out by the office of Free Europe in Kiev.
We have not found a connection between companies ICS Aero SM and Business Jet Travel, but both aircrafts that were involved in the mysterious charter flight in the night of August 29, 2016 have the emblem of an American company, IBE Trade Corp. The company specialized in the production of chemical fertilizers, belongs to a Ukrainian settled for many years in the US, Alex Rovt. According to Ukrainian media, this multi-millionaire did not invest for many years in his home-country, he decided to return to Ukraine in 2014, after Petro Poroshenko came to power. This summer, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary since independence proclamation of Ukraine, Poroshenko decorated Rovt the Order of Prince Iaroslav the Wise.
Reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism tried to find out who were the passengers of the second aircraft, that accompanied and supervised the charter flight used to extradite Veaceslav Platon. Our sources from Chisinau International Airport reported that the documents related to the 2 flights from the night of August 29 were raised by the Civil Aviation Authority. The only thing we could find is that the two planes were parked at the former military sector, and security staff did not have access there. Marshalling was performed by the director of Airport Handling, Arcadie Ciochina. “Technicians do it. I do not have that right. I do not have a certificate. Ask for the recording from Airport and see if I was there or not. Maxim, what I can do is to stay in parking and wait for the aircraft", said Arcadie Ciochina to us.
Lawyer: „Platon assumes that the plane is owned either by Porosenco, or they rented it”
We tried to get a comment from Veaceslav Platon about conditions under which he was brought to Chisinau. On the day when his lawyers were supposed to go to him to get written details, the administration of the Prison No. 13 banned access to the detainee. The motivated it by a mobile phone that was found in Platon’s cell. Lawyer Ion Vazdoaga described in detail the circumstances of Platon's extradition.
"On August 29, General Deputy Prosecutor of Ukraine has signed an order for the extradition of Veaceslav Platon. By law, such an order can be signed only by the General prosecutor or deputy prosecutor in the absence of general prosecutor. But the latter was present on that day. Though the law provides that the person can challenge the extradition order within 15 days, the document was urgently sent to prosecutors. At 16.00, when Platon’s lawyers left, he was informed about the order. Platon refused to sign it. They brought two witnesses who signed that Platon was notified about the order. Immediately after that, Platon was escorted to the airport. They went to Juliani. Platon did not know anything about a scheduled delayed flight. He says that when he arrived at the airport, charter plane was waiting. Veaceslav Platon did not know the plane model, but said that it was a luxury one. He assumes that this airplane is owned by Poroshenco, or they rented it. A flight by this plane costs between 30,000 and 40,000 euros".
Contacted several times by reporters of the Center for Investigative Journalism, Ion Iachimov, head of the National Investigation Inspectorate (INI) could not reply on the number of his employees involved in the extradition of Veaceslav Platon. "I'm not ready to answer. We have extraditions 2-3 times a week and the same proceedings are performed. I do not make a difference between Platon and non-Platon", said police colonel.
Ion Iachimov claims that he does not remember that his subordinates reported about the delay in regular race. "It is possible that an investigation was started to this effect and we did not do it. Perhaps, my subordinates asked me what to do, but I do not remember. Actually, it is not quite possible, because not all 400 employees call me to coordinate every step", added head of INI. He could not tell us if charter flights were used in other extradition operations. "I do not have much experience in this position and I did not coordinate arrangements for extradition. I do not know if they have ever used charter flights", said Ion Iachimov.
This investigation was accomplished under „Shining a Light on Corruption in Moldova” Project, carried out by the Center for Investigative Journalism and Freedom House, with the financial support of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.
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