Blackwater made its name during the Iraq war as one of the first for-profit mercenary companies the United States utilized in the campaign, but they eventually departed the country in disgrace, after several employees were accused and convicted of killing 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
Eventually, the company forced out the founder, Erik Prince, and rebranded as Xe (now Academi). Prince left the company and opened a new shop in Hong Kong called Frontier Services Group that focuses on “aviation and logistics firm specializing in shipping in Africa and elsewhere.”
Or, “He’s a rogue chairman” who wants to be a “no-shit mercenary.”
That’s the claim of a source in a new article by The Intercept that says the U.S. government is investigating Prince for “attempting to broker military services to foreign governments and possible money laundering.”
“He’s off the rails, exposing many U.S. citizens to criminal liabilities. Erik hides in the shadows … and uses [FSG] for legitimacy.”
Frontier Services Group, according to The Intercept, is just a front, with Prince working to create the exact same company he had before, only this time much more illegally, and very in bed with the Chinese.
[The] former Navy SEAL and self-proclaimed American patriot began building close business ties with powerful individuals connected to the Chinese Communist Party. In January 2014, Prince officially went into business with the Chinese government’s largest state-owned investment firm, the Citic Group, and founded Frontier Services Group, which is based in Hong Kong. Citic Group is the company’s single largest investor, and two of FSG’s board members are Chinese nationals.
The Intercept found two instances were Prince wanted to send mercenaries into conflicts to show what FSG could do. Originally he wanted to send troops in to Libya to “help” with the migrant crisis.
While Prince’s re-invented Libya “border security” proposal was framed as a means of stopping migration, sources with knowledge of Prince’s business strategy allege that he had greater ambitions in that country. One person involved in Prince’s plan said the anti-migration force was seen as a vehicle for Prince to build a “backdoor” for so-called kinetic, or lethal, operations in Libya — a form of mercenary mission-creep. “During the day, you do interdiction of migrants — not kinetic,” said the person involved in the plan. “But those routes are used by weapons smugglers and drug traffickers at night. Insurgents too. Erik’s guys can then be offered to the Libyans to help with their other problems. That’s how you get kinetic.”
The plan called for a series of “border security” bases housing intelligence centers, helicopters, surveillance airplanes, and weaponized vehicles. Prince proposed a fully equipped, contemporary military force to be staffed in part by foreign mercenaries.
“This is Erik Prince using the refugee crisis in Europe in an effort to put mercenaries on the ground in Libya,” said Malcolm Nance, a former U.S. Naval officer who trained special operations forces and has extensive experience in Libya since the fall of Qaddafi.
Of more concern to the U.S. Department of Justice is the possibility that he’s been laundering money with the Chinese.
Prince grew frustrated with the failure to get European help in releasing the frozen Libyan funds, and began looking for other ways to get his border force funded.
By then, the U.S. government was already investigating Prince for possible weapons deals in Africa, according to the former senior U.S. intelligence official and the former intelligence official briefed on the matter. In the course of the surveillance operation for that investigation, U.S. intercepts revealed Prince appearing to discuss efforts to open bank accounts in China to help his Libyan associates.
“Money laundering for Libyan officials using a Chinese bank — that is the issue that pushed it over the edge” for the Justice Department, said the second former intelligence official.
Prince said through a lawyer that the allegations were bullshit, and that he was not aware of any U.S. investigation. She did, however, admit that he had contact with Chinese spies.
As for Prince’s alleged meetings with Chinese intelligence, [Victoria] Toensing confirmed that Prince had met with internal security officials in Beijing, but claimed it was in connection to medical evacuation operations.
That denial aside, it sounds like the U.S. has him on this.
The U.S. spies monitoring Prince soon discovered that he had traveled to the Chinese-controlled peninsula of Macau in an effort to open a bank account, according to two people familiar with the investigation. A well-connected source within the Macau banking community told The Intercept that Prince first attempted to open an account at the Macau branch of a European-connected bank, but was denied after a review by the bank’s European headquarters.
Prince also wanted to send a force to Nigeria to help fight Boko Haram.
Several of the proposals for paramilitary services Prince has shopped around the world called for the use of a foreign force to conduct operations, according to the proposals and a person familiar with Prince’s plans. These documents, including one for Nigeria, were not authorized or approved by FSG and do not exist on any of its internal computer systems, according to company officials.
Prince has long been interested in raising a private military force to battle Islamic militant groups in a variety of countries. In 2014, he traveled to Nigeria and met personally with then-President Goodluck Jonathan to offer a $1.5 billion proposal to wipe out the radical Islamic group Boko Haram, according to a person familiar with Prince’s meeting. “It was a proposal to fix roads,” Toensing, Prince’s lawyer, said in a phone interview. “It was for fixing roads and not military related.”
Part of Project November — Prince’s proposal for Nigeria — envisioned air attacks in northeast Nigeria against the Islamic militant group Boko Haram. But the internal proposals Prince and his team drafted, reviewed by The Intercept, offered a markedly different set of services than street repairs. They explicitly promised to confront the sabotage and theft of Nigerian oil, provide VIP protection for Nigerian officials, and engage in counterinsurgency activities. Code-named Project November, the Nigeria plans were originally created with the FSG logo, though the company’s emblem was omitted from the plan presented to the Nigerians.
Prince was not picked by the government to fight that fight, and now his actions have board members of FSG concerned.
In recent months, Gregg Smith and some members of FSG’s board, which includes retired Adm. William Fallon, the former commander of U.S. Central Command, began examining the possibility that Prince’s unauthorized activities could lead to a criminal indictment or other sanctions against the FSG chairman by the U.S. government.
Sure sounds like it might.
Give the whole article a read here.