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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

1 - Introduction


The notorious Lu Zhang

In December 2009 Thai special forces seized a cargo plane at Bangkok Airport. The manifest claimed the airplane carried drilling equipment intended for oil exploration. Instead, 35 tons of weapons crammed the hold – arms that included rocket launchers and anti-aircraft missiles. The weapons originated in North Korea and were bound for Iran, mocking the United Nations arms embargo that targeted two of the three “Axes of Evil” (Michaels and Coker 2009).

Law enforcement officials traced the arms shipment to an obscure Chinese national, Lu Zhang, who was a recent immigrant to New Zealand. The 28-year-old woman served as the sole director of SP Trading, the company that hired the plane and apparently engineered this arms trade. In fact, Lu directed scores of other companies.

But, apparently, Lu Zhang had no idea that she was a notorious arms trader and international i nancial criminal until ofi cials contacted her. Rather, she had worked as a short-order cook at a Burger King in Auckland. Representatives of the GT Group, a shady incorporation service specializing in setting up companies for others, had hired Lu as a patsy. To supplement her income, for fifteen dollars each she signed the documents they placed in front of her.