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Cable 240512

ID: 240512
Date: 2009-12-18 07:05:00
Origin: 09MADRID1195
Source: Embassy Madrid
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Dunno: 08STOCKHOLM772 09STATE109436
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0368
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #1195/01 3520705
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180705Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1573
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0672
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 3099
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 2451

UNCLAS MADRID 001195

SIPDIS

PM/DTCC - BLUE LANTERN COORDINATOR FOR MEREDITH SUNDLOF
STACIE ZERDECKI, EUR/WE
STOCKHOLM FOR MARC KOEHLER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETTC, KOMC, SP, SW, MARR
SUBJECT: BLUE LANTERN CHECK ON LICENSE GC 0411-09

REF: A. STATE 109436
B. MURRAY-SUNDLOF TELCON 12/07/09
C. SUNDLOF-MURRAY E-MAIL 12/09/09
D. 2008 STOCKHOLM 772 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Pol-Mil officer and Air Force Attache
made site visit requested in reftel A in order to confirm the
delivery in March 2009 of three Bell 212 helicopters
transferred to Spain from Sweden and to confirm that the end
user continues to "evaluate the mechanical status of the
helicopters in order to decide what further commercial
actions are available given the condition of the craft," as
stated in the DSP-83 signed February 6. Venture capitalists
Ivan Bedia and Pedro Torres Gallego provided a tour of their
facilities, including the hangar where all three helos are
currently being stored, and were forthcoming both about how
they acquired the helicopters and how much they wish they had
not done so. Presenting themselves as investors trying to
salvage what they could of a bad, bad business deal, Bedia
and Torres were frank about the non-viability of commercial
options and sought Department assistance in recouping as much
of their investment as possible while adhering to
International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Pol-Mil
officer has advised Bedia and Torres of the need to submit
General Correspondence to change end use(s) once they have
identified prospective buyers. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Ivan Bedia is the General Manager of Guadaira
Componentes. The Guadaira GROUP financed the original
operation and now has possession (about one hour outside
Madrid) of the helos. Within the "group," Bedia told Emboffs
that European Helicopter Service (EHS) belongs to INACA
(Inversiones de America y Cadiz), which was represented
November 6 by Pedro Torres Gallego. Torres is an investor
based in southern Spain, who has no English ability. They
claimed to be very eager to see visitors from the U.S.
Embassy because they wanted our help in figuring out what to
do next, and they await our instructions.

3. (SBU) C.I. Guadaira is located in a brand new facility
that opened in July 2009 about an hours' drive from Madrid.
The company has ten employees and is certified in Spain to
work on transmissions and motors and to refurbish "dynamic
parts," not including helicopter blades. In addition to
green-designed office spaces, Bedia escorted Emboffs through
a "clean room" for metallurgy. By contrast the relatively
unfinished hangar lacked temperature controls and was very
dusty. Two helos we observed were still wrapped in plastic
sheeting coated in dust. A third helo, Serial No. 32231 and
Tail No. 014, that had been partially disassembled for
display purposes to potential buyers, was also covered with
dust. Bedia advised the blades were corroded beyond likely
repair and indicated the other removed parts on shelves in
the secure warehouse hangar.

4. (SBU) Bedia and Torres recounted the whole story from
their perspective of purchasing 16 such helicopters from the
Israeli Defense Ministry, of which they took delivery of the
first four on a trial basis, before their German partner
(European Petrol Station, or EPS) dropped out of the
transaction. (Bedia and Torres described meetings that took
place in Israel in 2005 and 2006 and included EPS. The
Guadaira Group is now pursuing a claim of USD $1.2 million
for its down payment from the Israeli MOD and is reportedly
close to an agreement with Israeli lawyers.) These 16 helos
were half of an original group of 32 such aircraft. Bedia
cited the example of INAER, which had acquired six or eight
such helos for firefighting under a restricted Spanish
Certificate of Airworthiness (COA). When Grupo Guadaira
agreed to acquire additional helos in lots of four, Bedia
held their intention was always to fly the helos in Europe.
They exported them to Sweden in hopes of acquiring a COA more
easily than Spain, and they claim they spent an estimated USD
$400,000 more to certify the helicopters. Sometime after the
purchase and transfer, however, EU regulations changed,
preventing the certification of these particular models for
firefighting and other civilian uses. (NOTE: Even
previously cited INAER is no longer permitted to fly its
helos. End note.) They do not have and may never have the
accountability and service records for these aircraft (the
mechanical logbooks are in Israel), however. Bedia frankly
acknowledged that even if they could or wanted to get the
aircraft in working order, there is no way these helos would
be allowed to fly in the EU (or in the United States).

5. (SBU) Consequently, the investors told us they have had
to look elsewhere for potential markets for the aircraft.
They have had some interest (buyers from the Dominican
Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dubai, Israel, Canada,
Colombia) but no lookers have pursued the deal. They have
also been visited by officers of the Spanish National
Intelligence Center (CNI). They have contemplated lowering
the asking price. (NOTE: License GC 0411-09 lists a
combined value of USD $600,000 for all three helos, but Bedia
valued each helo at USD $500,000. End note.) In the face of
our inquiry and the CNI questioning, and to get their
investors off their backs, however, Bedia and Torres told us
they were leaning toward decommissioning and removing the
military character of the helicopters in order to scrap them
and sell as many parts as are viable. They held their goal
was to get rid of the helos, in parts, and recoup some of
their investment. They requested our assistance in
determining what parts the United States would allow them to
sell and they offered assurances that if permission were
denied, they would destroy the helos and report same to
State.

6. (SBU) Bedia and Torres suspected that the CNI officers
had been sent to Guadaira based on information from U.S.
Embassy officers here and in Sweden. The told AIRA and
Pol-Mil officer that a U.S.-Swedish dual national contract
employee named Arnold B. Sundquist, who had lost his job and
hangar fees with the transfer of the helos from Sweden to
Spain, had told "strange stories" to Embassy Stockholm about
the Group's attempts to sell the helos to Hezbollah, forcing
them to explain themselves to both the GOS and the USG.
Bedia and Torres laughed to dismiss the allegations. With
the characterization of Sundquist as a disgruntled employee,
Emboffs inquired about Helena Pariza Lopez, one-time General
Manager of European Helicopter Service (ref D). According to
Bedia and Torres, Pariza Lopez no longer works for EHS and
had not since May or June 2009.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Presuming no malice aforethought, knowing
that CNI has already expressed interest in the company and
these specific helicopters, and upon consultation with
PM/DTCC, Post has provided the Spanish owners of the three
helos with required steps to follow should they identify
buyers for specific parts (ref C). Now that they seem
committed to selling the helos for parts, the first hurdle
will be to disassemble each and determine which parts are
marketable. Next, they must identify potential buyers. Post
has stressed that before proceeding with any transactions,
Guadaira must submit General Correspondence to PM/DTCC
requesting a change in end use for each specific part. As of
the date of this report, neither Torres nor Bedia had
communicated with Post regarding their intentions. Pol-Mil
officer will reach out to the helo owners again after the
Christmas holidays to see where things stand and to
facilitate any requests to change end use. END COMMENT.
CHACON