BANGKOK, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- An alleged arms merchant, currently in a Thai jail, was indicted in the United States for trying to buy planes to ship his merchandise, U.S. prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Wednesday Victor Bout, who inspired the Nicolas Cage movie "Lord of War," was accused of trying to buy Boeing airplanes from two Florida companies in 2007 to ferry arms around the world, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
"Viktor Bout allegedly made a career of arming bloody conflicts and supporting rogue regimes across multiple continents, even using the U.S. banking system to secretly finance a fleet of aircraft," Bharara said.
Bout, 42, a Russian businessman, remains custody in a Thai jail after the Bangkok Criminal Court last summer refused to extradite him to the United States, where he faces four terrorism-related charges and a possible life sentence, RIA Novosti reported.
Bout, who has denied the accusations, said he wasn't surprised by the indictment that also alleged he and his business partner, Richard Chichakli, violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by concealing millions of dollars in arms sales profits.
"This did not come as a surprise to me. Everything was quite predictable," Bout told RIA Novosti during an interview in Bangkok. "Now everything depends on the Thai authorities. I hope common sense will prevail, and I will finally return home."
Bout has been accused of supplying weapons to several war lords, from former Liberian President Charles Taylor -- on trial for war crimes -- to the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was arrested in Thailand 2008 during a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation.