Amnesty International wants a shell company set up by a Kiwi to be investigated for allegedly supplying up to $US46 million ($NZ64m) of weapons to the South Sudanese government.
South Sudan map (file picture).
S-Profit had been named in South Sudanese government documents, seen by Amnesty, as one of its prospective weapons suppliers.
United Kingdom records showed the company was set up in 2011, with New Zealander Ian Taylor the sole director.
S-Profit was later possibly used as a front for a United Arab Emirates-based business to buy small arms from a Ukrainian manufacturer on behalf of South Sudan, Amnesty said.
Amnesty said weapons illegally supplied by entities like S-Profit were being used in South Sudan’s nearly four-year civil conflict to commit countless human rights abuses.
“All parties to the conflict have used a range of weapons to horrific effect, killing, raping and maiming thousands of civilians, and displacing countless more,” Amnesty said.
Mr Taylor’s alleged role in acting as a front to set up shell companies before passing them on to others shows how arms dealers and others were abusing how easy it was to set up UK companies, Amnesty said.
It said Mr Taylor appeared to have no connection to the UK when he set S-Profit up.
The day after S-Profit was established, Mr Taylor’s shareholding was transferred to a Ukrainian national.
Mr Taylor denied registering “any UK Companies” when approached by Amnesty.
“I have no knowledge of S-Profit, other than I have at some point, been listed as a director of this company in the UK,” he said.
However, Amnesty said he was the listed director for more than 200 other UK companies.
It questioned how this was possible given Mr Taylor already had an infamous history setting up “shell companies” in foreign countries on behalf of others.
The Taylor family made headlines in 2009 after a NZ registered shell company SP Trading Ltd was found to have leased a plane that was forced down in Thailand. It was later revealed to be flying 35 tonnes of North Korean weaponry to Iran.
US prosecutors also named the Auckland-based business Mr Taylor ran with his father, called GT Group, as having set up companies used to launder money for North Korean arms deals and for the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.
Amnesty called on the UK government to tighten its oversight of how companies are formed in its jurisdiction and also for the United Nations to set up an international embargo on the supply of weapons to South Sudan.