In 2009 and 2012, 12 Agusta A109 helicopters were sold by the Belgian army to MAD Africa Distribution, a private Belgian company, through a public tender. In 2003 the director of MAD Africa Distribution was suspected by his country federal police and army intelligence services of money laundering and trafficking of weapons and vehicles. Recently, two of those A109 were spotted in South Sudan, a country where a European Union embargo on the sale of weapons is enforced. A picture shows them in yellow and without the civilian registration number required for their non military use.

Two Agusta A109 helicopters without their compulsory registration number visible. Photo: damspleet.com

But at the centre of the investigation by the Belgian journalist Damien Spleeters published on La Libre Belgique, IRPI collaborated to, there are the contradictory versions of the Belgian Ministry of Defence and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the release of the “Third Party Transfer” expressively requested in the tender. In fact, the Italian UAMA (the unit for the authorisation of armament material) that is in charge of conferring this permit, declares: “there are neither data of Agusta 109 (military configuration) exports from Italy to Belgium nor of an Italian authorization for a Third Party transfer”. For his part, the Belgian MoD has firstly sustained he had obtained the document while he has lately affirmed that the authorisation was not necessary.

The complete story by Damien Spleeters was published on Le Libre on June 25 2013.