• July 16, 2015


The Celtic League has a fairly wide remit (you just need to look at the fields of activity on our UN NGO link) so sometimes we focus on an issue and move on.

Such was the case with the story of Victor Bout an arms trader detained in Thailand and eventually extradited tried and imprisoned in the United States.

Whilst Bout was fighting extradition in Thailand in 2008 we got a whiff that Bout may have used companies with connections to the Isle of Man as part of his global arms trading Empire. This would have flown in the face of what we had been told for many years i.e. the Island had cleaned up its act.

Naturally we enquired of the Manx government and reassuringly the Chief Minister of the day told us:

“I have been advised that the Treasury is not aware of any evidence that any companies in the Island have been used by Mr Bout to facilitate his arms trading, or that any person in the Island has breached the orders implementing UN sanctions in the Island.”

(Correspondence CM Tony Brown MHK to the Celtic League – December 2008)

So the message was clear ‘nothing to see here, move along’.

As indicated above Bout eventually failed in his attempts to prove his innocence and in April 2012 he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in a US Penitentiary.

A few months later the site Conflict Awareness Project (CAP)published a detailed analysis of Bout and more importantly the activities of his arms trading successors:

The Isle of Man did get a mention in that report but as the CM reassured us all those years ago we are certain there’s nothing of concern in this. We will however contact CAP and ask if they have any current concerns.

However there is no doubt that in the past our country was involved in major arms trading scandals and no one was ever taken to task, for example, over the Mil-tech scandal and the linkage to the Rwanda genocide. No prosecution was possible in that case because the Island technically had broken no laws (a UN embargo had not been extended to the Island).

However morally the Island was in the wrong and perhaps it’s not too late for the government of Mann to extend an apology to the people of Rwanda. Next January’s Genocide Day might be a suitable occasion.

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League



The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues


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