Broker for Israeli Arms to Myanmar Arrested in Thailand for Drug Dealing and Money Laundering

Haaretz Daily Newspaper reports: Documents reveal that a corporation implicated in corruption, served as a middleman between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Elbit (publicly traded co), Israel Shipyards (publicly traded co) and Myanmar’s brutal junta, despite international sanctions over the Rohingya genocide.

Company Company Relation Location Industry Description
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) Parent Israel Aircraft Engines
Elta Systems Ltd Subsidiary of Parent Israel Electronic Navigation/Tracking Systems
Iai Asia Pte. Ltd. Subsidiary of Parent Singapore Wholesalers
Iai North America Inc. Principal Subsidiary USA Wholesalers
     Elta North America Inc. Subsidiary of Parent USA Electronic Navigation/Tracking Systems
     Iai North America Inc. Branch of Elta North America Inc. USA Business/Consumer Services
     Stark Aerospace Inc. Principal Subsidiary of Parent USA Aerospace Products/Parts
          Stark Aerospace Inc. Branch of Stark Aerospace Inc. USA Engineering Services
Israel Aerospace India Private Limited Subsidiary of Parent India Business/Consumer Services
Isreal Aerospace Industries Limited Branch of Parent India Airlines
Izrael Aerospeis Indastriz Ltd.  Predstavitelstvo Branch of Parent Russia Advertising Services
Mardan Holdco Pte. Ltd. Subsidiary of Parent Singapore Diversified Holding Companies

A corporation in Myanmar implicated in crime and corruption – whose top executives were arrested in Thailand on drug and money laundering charges – served as a middleman between Israeli arms exporters and the brutal military junta ruling the country, according to documents unveiled by the Justice for Myanmar organization. The corporation’s senior executives maintain business and family ties with senior junta and Myanmar military figures. Britain imposed sanctions on the corporation, Star Sapphire Trading, for its ties to the Myanmar army during the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.

The documents leaked to the organization are the subject of a letter sent by Israeli attorney Eitay Mack to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, demanding that an investigation be launched against the Israel Aerospace Industry, publicly traded company Elbit, and publicly traded company Israel Shipyards for aiding crimes against humanity and genocide, and against senior figures at the Defense and Foreign Affairs ministries, who were tasked with oversight, regulation and approval of marketing and export of the weapons systems in question to Myanmar. “They knew, or should have known, that they are involved in corruption and conspiracy in Myanmar,” Mack wrote.

The history of Israeli arms exports to Myanmar begins in the 1950s, as Mack recently wrote for Haaretz. “Israel played a central role in establishing the Burmese army, which has ruled the country with murderous brutality throughout most of the country’s history. Israel helped the army modernize, armed it, trained its men, and significantly contributed to building up and fortifying its power as the most dominant institution in the country. This power enabled the army at first to run the country from behind the scenes, and later on to remove the civilian leadership and establish a full military dictatorship.”

Although the United States and the European Union imposed an embargo on arms sales to Burma, Israel continued selling Myanmar weapons even during the period when the junta openly ruled the country. Contacts and exports continued even later, as the country committed genocide against the Muslim Rohingya minority. Israel eventually halted military exports to the country in early 2018 following extensive coverage and public pressure.

In 2017, Haaretz reported that Israel sold the Burmese navy Super-Dvorah 3 ships built at the Israel Aerospace Industry’s RAMTA plant, mounted with Elbit-made gun stations enabling heavy machine gun and rapid fire cannons. The sale followed two visits by the Burmese navy chief to Israel.

In 2015, Myanmar’s Chief of Staff visited Israel, despite the sanctions against the country.

The Times of Israel Hebrew edition reported in 2020 that Gilat Satellite Networks (publicly traded co) was supplying technology directly to the Myanmar military. “The broadcasts of Myanmar military’s psychological warfare and public relations administration make Gilat Satellite Networks a party to the dissemination of hate,” Justice for Myanmar, which revealed the Gilat deal, said at the time.

Company Name Company Relation Location Industry Description
Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. Headquarters Israel Telecommunications Equipment
Gilat Satélite Networks México  S.A. De C.V. Principal Subsidiary of Parent Mexico Telecommunication Services
     Gilat Satélite Networks México  S.A. De C.V. Branch of Principal Subsidiary Mexico Telecommunication Services
Gilat Satellite Networks (Eurasia) Llc Subsidiary of Parent Russia Machinery
Gilat Satellite Networks (Uk) Limited Subsidiary of Parent England Telecommunication Services
Gilat Satellite Networks Australia Pty Ltd Subsidiary of Parent Australia Telecommunication Services
Gilat Satellite Networks Inc Subsidiary of Parent USA Telecommunication Services
Intreprinderea Cu Capital Strain Gilat Satellite Networks Mdc  Societate Cu Raspundere Limiatta Subsidiary of Parent Moldova Machinery
Raysat Antenna Systems Israel Ltd Subsidiary of Parent Israel Telecommunication Services
Raysat Bulgaria Eood Subsidiary of Parent Bulgaria Computer Services
Wavestream Corporation Principal Subsidiary of Parent USA Industrial Electronics
     Wavestream Corporation (Asia) Pte. Ltd. Subsidiary of Principal Subsidiary Singapore Scientific Research Services


Over the past two years, Justice for Myanmar has revealed a number of arms deals violating international sanctions against the Burmese junta, along with corruption among senior regime figures. Now the organization has obtained internal correspondence between the Star Sapphire Trading corporation and the Myanmar military, which show the military was offered weapons manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industry, Elbit, and Israel Shipyards. The documents claim that the Burmese company is the exclusive representative of these Israeli exporters, and that it operates with permission from the Israeli Defense Ministry.

Star Sapphire made headlines in September when Thai authorities arrested Dr. Tun Min Latt, a senior figure in the company, on suspicion of drug dealing and money laundering. Another arrest warrant was issued for Upakit Pachariyangkun, a Thai senator and business partner of Tun Min Latt and Star Sapphire.

But according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, the warrant was quickly canceled, and reports on the matter in Thailand were scrapped from the web. However, the senator’s son-in-law, another of Latt’s business partners, remained in custody. In an interview to Thai television, the Senator said that his partner Yun Min Latt told him that he was the representative of the Israeli government in Myanmar.

Another senior executive at Star Sapphire is Htet Aung, whose father, Brig. Gen. Zin Yaw, has formerly served as chief of staff of Myanmar’s air force, an executive at the military corporation MEHL and deputy foreign minister. Both Zin Yaw and Htet Aung used to be under international sanctions, but those sanctions were removed when the West sought to promote democracy in Myanmar. Tun Min Latt and Htet Aung are both confidants of the head of the junta, Min Aung Hlaing, whose daughter also formerly served as a senior executive at Star Sapphire.

Last August, Britain decided to reinstate sanctions on Star Sapphire, saying it “was responsible for the brokering of deals for military goods, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)”, and supplying restricted goods to Myanmar… used in military operations. Star Sapphire contributed funds to the Myanmar Security Forces in 2017… for the Rakhine clearance operations held by Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing”.

In a letter dating from June 2015, Star Sapphire gave the Myanmar army information and price quotes for systems made by Elbit. These included friend-foe identification systems for fighter jets, flight deck display systems and night-vision systems for helicopters and warplanes, as well as Skylark I-Lex drones, which the Myanmar military uses today.

The letter was sent after the commander of Myanmar’s air force visited Israel as a guest of the Defense Ministry and expressed interest in these products. It also stated that Star Sapphire is Israel Aerospace Industries’ exclusive representative in Myanmar and operates with the Israeli Defense Ministry’s permission.

Another letter detailed an offer of radars from IAI’s ELTA subsidiary. Those radars were also shown to the air force commander during his visit to Israel. The letter again states that Star Sapphire is IAI’s exclusive representative in the country.

An official letter, from the office of Myanmar Navy’s Commander-in Chief, dated August 2017, stated that VP marketing at Israel Shipyards sought a meeting with the head of the navy. Two other senior officers were requested to attend. The meeting was to be held at the Directorate of Procurement. The letter claimed that Israel Shipyards are a “partner of Star Sapphire”.

Israeli attorney Mack had already asked then-Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, back in August 2018, to open an investigation into the three exporters and the Defense Ministry’s export supervision unit. But the Attorney General’s Office has yet to make a decision on his request, even though the Ombudsman’s Office upheld two complaints that Mack filed about government attorneys’ handling of it.

Although the deputy attorney general’s office and the state prosecution “didn’t sit on their hands in dealing with your requests, several years have passed since they were submitted to the attorney general and passed on to the deputy’s office for processing,” the acting ombudsman wrote in his response to Mack this year. “As of the date of this decision, more than two and a half years have passed since your request on Guatemala was submitted and more than three and a half years since your request on Burma was submitted, yet no decisions have been taken. Therefore, it’s clear that officials in the prosecution must make sincere efforts to finish dealing with the requests and make decisions on these issues.”

A spokeswoman for Justice For Myanmar, Yadanar Maung, harshly criticized Israel’s conduct. “Not only has Israel abetted genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but it has also enriched Dr. Tun Min Latt and the Star Sapphire group, a notorious arms broker connected to the war criminal Min Aung Hlaing,” she said.

“The involvement of Tun Min Latt, who at the time was operating an illegal casino, should have set off alarm bells among the Israeli officials who authorized the company to engage in marketing and brokering,” she continued. “But Israel apparently ignored the criminal behavior of Tun Min Latt and the Myanmar army and preferred the pursuit of profits through corrupt deals, while enabling the army to commit atrocities.

“We demand urgent criminal investigations into the issues of corruption and abetting crimes against humanity through the sale of Israeli arms to Myanmar,” her statement concluded. “All those responsible must pay for their actions.”

The Attorney General’s office informed Mack this week that his application was forwarded to the State Attorney. The Israel Aerospace Industries declined to comment. Elbit has not responded to a request to comment. Israel Shipyards said it has “never conducted deals in Myanmar, and is in no way related to the corporation mentioned in your letter – and it has never been a business partner of that corporation. The allegations by attorney Eitay Mack are denied in full”. Following their response, Israel Shipyards was asked whether Star Sapphire brokered between them and Myanmar’s navy and whether their VP Marketing requested the meeting. They refused to answer.