The horsemeat-sold-as-beef scandal took a parapolitical turn recently, when it was revealed that the mastermind may be the notorious Viktor Bout
. I once referred to Bout as the closest real life equivalent to a James Bond supervillain
Some say that Bout should be pronounced "butt," which makes my headline a better pun than you probably thought at first. Others insist on pronouncing Bout as "boot", which means I need a new pun. You'd think that a guy with his kind of ill-gotten loot could afford a better suit than the one you see in the picture to your left. (Four
buttons? And look at those sleeves...!)
Bout, formerly of the GRU (or KGB, depending on your source), is an arms merchant, most infamous for being the key supplier to Al Qaeda in the years before the World Trade Center attack. Before the American invasion, the Afghan airline -- yes, they had an airline -- had become your standard "guns in, drugs out" operation, and Bout supplied the guns. During our war with Iraq, Bout got hold of a lot of Bosnian weapons scheduled for destruction and got them into the hands of -- well, pretty much everyone on all sides. He's into shady airlines, blood diamonds, money laundering, surface-to-air missiles and all the other accoutrements of the modern fun-seeker.
To learn a lot more, try this New Yorker profile
(and this one
), along with this website
(which needs updating). The New Yorker article indicates that everyone's favorite
death merchant turned his attention to foodstuffs six or seven years
In 2010, Bout was arrested in Thailand for making weapons deals with Colombian terrorists. Extradited to the U.S., he was convicted in November of 2011 and sentenced to 25 years in August of last year.
So the question becomes: How does a guy in prison have anything to do with companies connected to the horsemeat scandal?
The company many point to as the main culprit in the beef-substitution racket is called Draap Trading
, headquartered in Cyprus.
Jan Fasen, who runs Draap and has denied any wrongdoing, was convicted last year of selling South American horsemeat as German and Dutch beef.
In a development that sheds light on the mysterious networks operating in the European food chain, it has emerged that Draap's sole director is an anonymous corporate services company called Guardstand, set up in 1996 and based in Limassol.
Guardstand, in turn, appears to be part of the Bout network. (Yes, I've simplified a very complicated tale; there's also a company called Ilex in there somewhere. If you want the fuller version, follow the links.)
Take another look at the photo above. Would you buy ground round from that guy? Given the appalling number of human
corpses Bout has churned up, we should be glad that Draap turned to an equestrian substitute.
In his pre-prison days, Bout went to great lengths to curry favor with the Pentagon and the neocons
-- a pretty neat trick, when you consider that he has also armed Israel's enemies. For more on Bout's Bush-era links to the U.S. and U.K. power elite, see here