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UK persecutes businessman over 'sanctions-busting'
Posted: Monday, November 11, 2002

By David Pallister and Tania Branigan

THE British government has launched a formal investigation into the allegation that a white Zimbabwean businessman one of the richest men in Britain has broken UK and European sanctions by supplying aircraft parts to the Zimbabwean airforce.

The allegations against the international financier John Bredenkamp were made in a United Nations report on the "illegal exploitation of natural resources" in the Democratic Republic of Congo, published last month.

In the past few days, both the foreign secretary, Jack Straw and the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, have confirmed in parliamentary answers that an investigation has begun.

In the first answer to the Tory MP Michael Acram, Mr Straw said: "We are aware of allegations of past arms dealing activities by Mr John Bredenkamp.

On Monday Mr Hoon told the Labour MP Paul Farrelly, who accused Mr Bredenkamp of sanctions-busting in the Commons in March: "The government certainly takes seriously all credible reports of misuse or diversion of UK-exported equipment." The UN report says Mr Bredenkamp, founder of the Ascot sporting agency Masters International, "has a history of clandestine military procurement."

While Mr Bredenkamp admits he broke sanctions for the Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith, he denies any sanctions violations since then.

He said in a statement to the Guardian that he took "great exception to any allegation of wrong-doing" and described the report as "hopelessly misleading and inaccurate." MORE

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