The owner of a Greek defense company is suspected by the American prosecution of conspiracy, fraud and smuggling of military goods and technology to Russia. The company, the Aratos Group, also has branches in the Netherlands: Aratos Systems BV in Rijen and ForceApp BV in The Hague.
“Although the defendant and the Aratos Group ostensibly acted as trading partners of NATO and other allies, they were imposters who supported the Russian war effort and helped them develop a new generation of weapons,” the US prosecutor said.
The owner, 59-year-old Greek Nikolaos Bogonikolos, was arrested in Paris on May 9. There he awaits extradition to the US.
Dual use technology
According to the Americans, B.’s companies were controlled by Russian intelligence services. The goal was to get their hands on American military technology and dual-use technology. The latter are technologies that can be used in both civil and military goods.
Bogonikolos is said to have stated the Netherlands as the final destination for this type of goods a number of times, although in reality that was Russia.
Among the goods were advanced electronics and sophisticated test equipment, including those for quantum cryptography and nuclear weapons, the Americans said.
Bogonikolos is said to have been recruited by the Russians around 2017. In December of that year, a Russian company asked him to come to Moscow alone, because the topic of conversation was said to be very sensitive. That company would be run by a Russian intelligence service.
The Aratos Group and its subsidiaries specialize in aerospace engineering, homeland security, blockchain engineering and defense against drone attacks. The websites of the companies have been taken offline.
According to the American OM, the Dutch subsidiary Aratos Systems BV managed to reach the final in 2021 of a competition organized by NATO for applications of AI and blockchain technology for satellites and spacecraft.
The website of the umbrella organization of Dutch defense companies NIDV states that ForceApp BV is participating in a European project that should enable EU countries to disable sea mines without outside help.
In 2017 and 2018, Aratos Systems BV was a member of the Hague Security Delta (HSD), a group of 275 companies, government institutions and knowledge institutes. Membership has been terminated by the company itself. An HSD spokesman doesn’t know why. ForceApp BV has never been a member of the Hague Security Delta.
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