ADVANFORT LIED TO GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA
The statement from Avant Garde Maritime Services:
It is observed that information have been disseminated to Private Maritime Security Companies by AdvanFort International, Inc. to the effect that Sri Lankan Waters are unsafe for Seafarers.
This information is totally false and malicious, intended to mislead the Maritime community.
It is pertinent to mention that due to a series of illegal activities conducted by AdvanFort, this company is facing litigation and their vessel ‘MV Seaman Guard Ohio’ is presently in the custody of Indian authorities for conducting illegal Maritime operations (conducting illegal fuelling) and carrying illegal weapons (without flag state approval) and security guards.
To emphasise upon the PMSCs this gravity, previous offences committed by AdvanFort are listed below.
1. It was found that same AdvanFort was operating a floating armoury closer to Sri Lankan waters and there had been Sri Lankan Navy checks on this matter a year back and questioned them on suspicious grounds. Subsequently they were ask to leave Sri Lankan waters.
2. AdvanFort operated a vessel called “MV Seapole One” tried to enter into Maldivian waters by deceiving the Maldivian Authorities stating that it was a cargo ship and needed some repairs on its hull. However, upon inspection Maldivian Authorities found that “MV Seapole One” was neither a cargo ship nor it needed any repairs to its hull. “MV Seapole One” had 2-0 ‘browning’ which generally are not used by maritime companies, for which documentary proof is available.
3. It was about few months back AdvanFort disembarked unarmed sea marshals in Galle and when Sri Lankan Authorities questioned them about the location of the weapons they could not provide a convincing answer. During questioning of sea marshals, they indicated that their weapons were handed over to a small boat at sea. They were investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sri Lanka Police and later released. This incident was informed to the Embassy of United States in Sri Lanka. Subsequently, AGMS received a letter from AdvanFort, apologising to the incident.
4. Recently, about few months back vessel “MV Ohio” quoted they were a floating armoury and requested bunkering from a Shipping Agent in Sri Lanka. This matter was referred to us by the respective Shipping Agent in Colombo and asked for permission from Ministry of Defence(MOD) for bunkering. MOD issued a Letter of Authority for the bunkering of the vessel. Having received the authorization from the MOD the vessel did not turn up for bunkering which prompted to develop suspicion over this issue.
5. It was then we made inquiries from the local agent of the said vessel and found that the vessel belong to AdvanFort, but never knew more details of the vessel and its activities. This promoted us to suspect their motive of securing MOD authorization for bunkering and later not showing up for same. We then requested for the details of the owner of AdvanFort and received Mr. Ahmed Farajallah’s contact details. Repeated attempts to get connected to Mr. Farajallah were in vain. Later through our intelligence it was found that AdvanFort was operating an undeclared floating armoury off the coast Galle (Sri Lanka) and had conducted approximately 25 embarkation / disembarkation operations from our legitimate floating armoury “MV Mahanuwara”. Subsequently this undeclared floating armoury belonging to AdvanFort was arrested by the Indian Navy.
6. With the said undeclared floating armoury operations of AdvanFort off the coast Galle, we have reasonable doubts about the legality of their weapons and the parties with whom they had their dealings with. We had a reasonable doubt about the legality of AdvanFort weapons, and did not know whether weapons were obtained from subversive elements.
7. The judgment (For the Criminal Case) against AdvanFort for the offence “Aiding and abetting the making of a false statement during the acquisition of firearms” by United States District Courtof Eastern District of Virginia on 08th March 2013 and 05th September 2013 respectively, stern warning had been issued to AdvanFort not to involve in such offences in future. We also found that they were placed on supervised probation for a term of “Two Years”, and they should not leave the judicial district without the permission of the court. Further they should notify courts any changes in employment and are not supposed to possess or acquire firearms in the United States.
8. When we analyze all above incidents and the USA Court order, we are extremely doubtful of the operational behaviour of AdvanFort Company (now AdvanFort International, Inc; a Delaware Company) in this region.
Please be informed that henceforth, we will not permit any PMSCs to disembark AdvanFort weapons / personnel to any of the AGMS Floating Armouries.
As AdvanFort is blacklisted is Sri Lanka, any weapons / personnel of this company arriving in Sri Lanka will be arrested/ confiscated and necessary legal action will be initiated.
We have informed the Embassy of the USA in Sri Lanka about the illegal activities of AdvanFort. It is found that AdvanFort is using the good name of USA for their advantages. Also, it is pertinent to mention that USA Government has not issued any letter/document to AdvanFort to engage in floating armoury operations in Indian Ocean.
PMSCs are informed not to get carried away by false information circulated by AdvanFort with regard to safety of Seafarersin Sri Lankan Waters, which is secure where Maritime Operations are carried out at present with 100 % safety.
Sri Lanka Navy has also issued a statement on 18th November 2013, refuting this false information circulated by AdvanFort.
Major Nissanka Senadhipathi
Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd