IAF cargo held at Helsinki

While Finnish Customs suspect a Finnair official to be guilty of the export violation for transporting 19 crates of military equipment, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has indicated Balmer Lawrie to be at fault in the matter, for not executing proper documentation. The cargo was impounded in May last year.

C ustoms officials in Finland have impounded a consignment of 19 crates belonging to the Indian Air Force (IAF) that was on its way to Russia.

According to a report in a Finnish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, ‘the Finnish Customs have confiscated a defense equipment consignment belonging to the Indian Air Force at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. The military items were on their way from Mumbai in India to Russia.’

Weighing ’1,700 kilograms’ and being transported by a Finnair Cargo flight from Mumbai, the cargo was interestingly reported by the newspaper to have been impounded in May 2008 because it lacked the necessary documentation required for military equipment to transit Finland. The report also says Finnish Customs have requested the Indian government for legal advice. While it is not clear exactly what the cargo contained, IAF sources told StratPost,”The IAF routinely transports equipment for servicing and repair to Russia. So there is nothing surprising there.”

According to the Helsingen Sanomat, the Finnish Customs suspects a Finnair official for violating export control laws. The official is also reported to be a member of the board of Finnair.

But strangely, the IAF source also indicated the IAF’s shipping contractor, Balmer Lawrie to have been at fault in not having executed the proper documentation required for ensuring the cargo could transit Finland. Balmer Lawrie is a Government of India Enterprise.

According to the same report, published last Wednesday, ‘the cargo company transporting defense material has to make sure that all the needed permits are in order before the consignment is accepted into Finland to be delivered further’ and that ‘the maximum penalty for an export crime of this nature is four years’ imprisonment’.

While, the IAF does not seem overly worried about this incident, the report indicates that ‘the preliminary investigation will be completed within the next few months’.

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Follow Saurabh Joshi on Twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/saurabhjoshi Saurabh is a journalist based in New Delhi, India who has worked in print, television as well as internet news media. Besides defense and strategy, his past assignments have included reporting from Kashmir, coverage of terror strikes as well as election coverage from all over India. He has a Bachelors degree in Journalism (Honors) as well as a law degree (LLB), both from the University of Delhi.
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