Viktor Bout, the ‘Merchant of Death,’ a Case Study for Business Ethics
Policymic April 10, 2012
Late last week famed international arms dealer, Viktor Bout, Also known as the “Merchant of Death,” was sentenced by a US Federal Court to 25 years in prison (the minimum term), after having been found guilty of conspiracy to kill Americans, and supplying anti-aircraft missiles to a terrorist organization.
He was caught by agents of the US Drug Enforcement Agency in a well publicized sting in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2008. Agents, pretending to be members of the Colombian FARC Terrorist organization, pretended to solicit the purchase of anti- aircraft missiles from Bout. Bout was detained and then extradited to the U.S. in 2010. He was convicted on November 2, 2011.
This conviction demonstrates very clearly that the kind of war profiteering and weapons trafficking conducted by Bout will no longer be tactilely tolerated by leading powers. In the past it was. During the Cold War, authorities of the Soviet Union or the United States looked away while traffickers supplied weapons to rebels and dictators of their favour for the strategic role that they played. The Cold War, however, has been over since 1991, and these social harms can no longer be ignored.
Bout, A former Russian Military Intelligence Officer, conducted business during the 1990’s and the 2000’s, when there were plenty of violent conflicts in the World. He ostensibly ran an air freight company that provided shipping services in developing countries and conflict areas. His fleet of dozens of airplanes was registered to numerous companies all over the world. American US prosecutors presented this as evidence that he was attempting to hide his activity, and that he was aware of what he was doing was illegal. In fact he was shipping rifles, missiles, and ammunition. He was able do this for many decades hiding under the chaos of post 1991 Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the U.S.’s distraction by two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
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