|Subject: Arms plot alleged here brings denial
in Jakarta, Indonesian officials say one suspect sold them spare parts only
Arms plot alleged here brings denial in Jakarta Indonesian officials say one suspect sold them spare parts only
JAKARTA, Indonesia » An Indonesian arrested in Hawaii for conspiring to smuggle weapons out of the United States is a supplier of spare parts for the Indonesian military, but the armed forces had no involvement in the alleged plot, a spokesman said yesterday.
The hundreds of weapons that Hadianto Djoko Djuliarso allegedly tried to buy in the United States "were not ordered by us," said military spokesman Rear Adm. Moh Sunarto.
Djuliarso, 41, and three others suspects were arrested a week ago in Hawaii after meeting with people they thought were representing a Detroit-area company that would provide the military hardware, U.S. authorities said.
The weapons -- including handguns, machine guns and Sidewinder missiles -- were to be shipped to Indonesia through Singapore.
Indonesia's military has been accused of involvement in illegal activities such as logging, drug smuggling and prostitution, and critics say corruption is especially widespread in weapons procurement.
But Sunarto said Djuliarso "is a supplier of spare parts, not guns and missiles" for Indonesia's armed forces.
He said Djuliarso had been in the U.S. to inspect radar systems for F-5 Tiger jet fighters.
Many of the Indonesia's F-5 Tiger II and F-16 fighter jets remain grounded after the United States cut all military ties with Jakarta in 1999 to protest alleged human rights abuses by Indonesian troops in East Timor.
Washington lifted the ban in November, partly as a reward for Indonesia's cooperation in the war on terror.
Djuliarso was arrested along with Singaporean Ibrahim Bin Amran, David Beecroft, whose nationality is still not known and another Indonesian, Ignatius Ferdinandus Soeharli.
Sunarto said he knew nothing about Soeharli.
All four men were charged with conspiring to violate the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
They were being held in Hawaii but will be transferred to Detroit to answer the charges.
The Straits Times (Singapore)
Sunday, April 16, 2006
US arms deal rap: Accused is ex-SAF officer
Arrested by US agents last Monday, 60-year-old owns company which buys and sells weapons and military gear
THE Singaporean arrested in the United States on Monday for illegal arms dealing is a retired senior SAF officer who runs a company trading weapons and security equipment.
Ronald Chia Kia Cheng, 60, the second Singaporean in a matter of days to be picked up by US agents for illegal arms dealing, is a partner in Meng Hock Enterprises. He set up the company with another former army officer 10 years ago to buy and sell weapons and other items like bullet-proof vests and glass panels.
He was also either the director, owner or shareholder of at least 10 companies here, including Broadway Travel and Tours, Asiamatic Industries and Khairos Regional Trading, which folded in August 2001.
Bespectacled and slightly balding, Chia, whose son is a navy officer, was described by a 38-year-old relative yesterday as 'a serious man who went by the book and was always on the ball'. But it appears he may have made the alleged deal to speed up procedures in the US which could have otherwise resulted in delayed shipments by up to a year.
Since the Sept 11 attacks in the US, strict screening and new checking procedures for the shipment of security equipment have delayed export approval for between six months and a year, according to an industry source.
On Friday, Chia was refused bail in a San Diego court and remanded for further investigation. If convicted, he faces 10 years' jail and a US$1 million (S$1.62 million) fine on each of the two counts.
His case is unrelated to the arrest of another Singaporean in Hawaii, for attempting to buy and export military equipment. According to the indictment, Chia was attempting to buy arms for potential buyers in Syria and Indonesia. Syria remains on the US arms embargo list while the freeze on weapons exports to Indonesia was lifted only last November.
Chia first came to the notice of US Customs agents in 1999, when he showed up at an arms trade show in Washington DC, where an undercover agent was introduced to him as someone who could provide 'services' to him. They corresponded sporadically for several years, primarily through e-mail and telephone conversations. Using the name Ronald 'KC' Chia, he expressed interest in the purchase and export of various export-controlled items, including night vision equipment, bullet-proof vests of military grade and M-16 rifles.
But nothing developed until March last year, when Chia began discussing the potential export of thousands of M-16 rifles, which he referred to by the code phrase 'teak furniture', from the US. Chia said he was trying to broker two M-16 rifle deals with buyers in Indonesia and Syria. According to court documents, on several occasions, he discussed potential methods of falsifying export records to cover the load contents and transshipments to circumvent US export controls and minimise interception during transit.
He also inquired about the possibility of acquiring grenade launchers destined for Syria and agreed to come to the US to finalise the deal.
In February this year, he advised the agent he expected some confirmed orders soon, but said the Indonesian customer wanted to see samples of the rifles. Last month, he arranged a date to go to San Diego to inspect the those samples. On Monday at about 4.15pm, he met the undercover agent at a San Diego hotel, where Chia inspected an M4 Carbine rifle, a more compact and lightweight version of the famous M16 machine gun, and an M4 Commando rifle, which is the preferred weapon of paratroop or special force units.
He also inspected a scope - a sighting device used to focus on the target. The agent told Chia he had not yet received the M-16-A3 rifle Chia had also ordered. He then showed Chia a document stating that requests for the export of 'lethal defence articles' to Indonesia would be considered only on a case-by-case basis, according to Arms Export Control Act.
Chia stated that he was familiar with the 'case-by-case problem'. Chia then filled in the Indonesian addressee's particulars on a blank invoice presented by the agent and asked for the items to be held at a courier company after shipment so that they could be collected. The agent told him he was going to drop off the shipment with a courier company that same night and Chia paid him US$3,280.
At about 6pm, federal law enforcement agents entered the hotel room and arrested Chia. He was then advised of his rights, which he acknowledged and waived in the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Micah McCombs and Special Agent John Helsing of the Defence Criminal Investigative Service.
In an interview after his arrest, Chia eventually admitted a State Department export licence was required to export the rifles out of the US and that the undercover agent did not have a licence. Chia however refused to acknowledge that he knew what he had done was illegal.
In a press statement, Special Agent Rick Gwin, who heads the Western Field Office of Department of Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), said: 'In the hands of America's enemies, the type of weapons sought by Mr Chia pose a serious threat to America's Warfighter programme.
'DCIS will aggressively pursue those who seek to illegally buy and sell Dept of Defence technology.' No one was in when The Sunday Times visited Chia's sixth-floor flat in Jurong West Street 64 over the last two days.
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