Belgian businessman arrested for Russian smuggling

A Belgian businessman was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in a clandestine network of Russian intelligence companies, De Tijd and other newspapers reported on Wednesday. 

Earlier, De Tijd and foreign media discovered that a clandestine Russian military intelligence business network had been able to obtain sensitive Western technology via Belgium. At the time, the name of the arrested man, Hans DG, and his company, Hasa-Invest was also mentioned.

On Tuesday morning, investigators searched private homes and company offices in Knokke-Heist and Eeklo in Belgium and Rotterdam and Sluis in the Netherlands. Four people were taken in for questioning in Belgium and two in the Netherlands. 

Dual-use goods

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office is not releasing any names, but according to several media outlets, the investigation targeted DG. In addition to Hasa-Invest, based in Knokke-Heist, DG also used the company Hasa Netherlands, based in Sluis.

"The investigation concerns the trade and brokering of dual-use goods," said Eric Van Duyse, spokesperson for the federal prosecutor's office. "These goods can be used for both civilian and military applications, such as in drones or missiles. The investigation should reveal whether these strategic and protected technologies were traded to countries that are subject to legal restrictions imposed by Belgium and the European Parliament."

'It was all trinkets'

On Tuesday, the US government revealed details of the network that DG allegedly operated for years. Through his companies in Belgium, the Netherlands and Cyprus, he allegedly supplied Russia with semiconductors for its weapons programme, among other things. 

DG supplied to Russia through companies in Hong Kong, China and Turkey. He and his companies were placed on a US sanctions list to freeze their assets. In October, he denied to De Tijd that he had supplied sensitive products. "To say that they are also used for military purposes is a lot of nonsense. It was all trinkets. I saw the licences and they were fine," he said.


#FlandersNewsService | A 2022 search of the Stockholm mansion of Sergei Skvortsov, suspected of being the linchpin in a network of companies through which the Russian military bought sensitive technology © PHOTO FREDRIK SANDBERG / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP

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