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Oversight Committee: U.S. Ambassador to Albania Collaborated In Illegal Arms Selling

Friday the Justice Dept. arrested Efraim Diveroli, the 22 year-old arms contractor, for buying Chinese munitions from Albania. It’s illegal to purchase arms made in China under U.S. law. According to documents released this morning by the House oversight committee, it turns out that Diveroli had a helping hand — the U.S. Embassy of Albania.

U.S. Major Larry Harrison, a top officer at the U.S. Embassy in Albania, told the committee that the U.S. Ambassador to Albania helped Diveroli’s company, AEY, remove Chinese labeling from rifle cartridges. The U.S. Ambassador discussed "late into the night" with the Albanian defense minister how to best remove Chinese labeling from cartridges that AEY was about to sell to Afghanistan security forces.

Why were Chinese cartridges in Albania? The former Eastern bloc country bought millions of rounds from China during the Cold War. AEY would go to Albania, and other former Soviet nations, to buy these inexpensive cartridges as part of their Pentagon contract to provide ammunition to Afghanistan security forces. Pentagon contracts note that buying arms made in China is illegal.

Now it looks like the U.S. government played a role in this illegal transaction and only punished AEY after The New York Times ran an expose on the Miami-based arms dealer. Committee chair Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today accusing the State Dept. of concealing information about the purchase of Chinese arms.

Hopefully some of AEY’s highly original business practices can be sorted out tomorrow when the oversight committee is supposed to hold a hearing on the contractor.

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