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How ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout Amassed a Fortune of $50 Million?

Viktor Bout is an Arms Dealer from Russia. He made weapons and was a translator for the Soviet military. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he used his many companies to smuggle weapons from Eastern Europe to Africa and the Middle East.

Bout got the nicknames “Merchant of Death” and “Sanctions Buster” after British minister Peter Hain gave a report to the United Nations in 2003 about Bout’s wide-ranging operations, large clientele, and willingness to break embargoes.

Bout was caught in Thailand in 2008 and charged with terrorism. The Royal Thai Police did this with help from the US government and Interpol. The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Eric G. John, asked for him to be sent back to the U.S., and in 2010, the Thai High Court agreed.

Bout was accused of wanting to sell weapons to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant who posed as a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) so that the weapons could be used against U.S. forces in Colombia. Bout denied the charges and thought he would be found not guilty.

Early Years

Viktor Bout Net Worth

Viktor Anatolyevich Bout was born in Dushanbe, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union, on January 13, 1967. It’s not clear where Bout came from. UN documents and Bout himself say that he was born in Dushanbe, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union, which is now the capital of Tajikistan. His most likely birthday is January 13, 1967, but there are other possible dates. Sergei Bout is the name of his older brother.

According to South African intelligence and the British Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Bout was born in Ukraine. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, he became a Russian citizen. The committee on Liberia for the UN Security Council says that Bout has at least four passports.

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What is Viktor Bout’s Net Worth?

Viktor Bout Net Worth

As of December 2022, Viktor Bout Has an Estimated Net Worth of $50 Million (Source: Celebrity Net Worth). He made a million-dollar empire through his work.

Some people have called Bout the “Merchant of Death,” while others have called him “one of the most dangerous men on the face of the Earth.” This is because he helped start the air freight company Air Cess in the 1990s, which sold weapons all over the world and fueled civil wars in several countries.

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Military Career

Viktor Bout Net Worth

Bout was in the Soviet military. Aside from the fact that he graduated from the Soviet Military Institute of Foreign Languages, we don’t know much about his time in the military. Bout learned Portuguese, English, French, Arabic, and Farsi through his training, which made him a polyglot (Persian).

He is said to speak Esperanto well. He learned it when he was 12 and joined the Dushanbe Esperanto club in the early 1980s. On his website, Bout said that he was a lieutenant in the Soviet Army and worked as a translator.

When the Soviet Army broke up in 1991, Bout is thought to have been let go with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He then started an air freight business. Other sources say he was a major in the GRU, an officer in the Soviet Air Forces, a graduate of a Soviet military intelligence training program, or an agent of the KGB.

In the late 1980s, Bout helped the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the Angolan Civil War as part of a Soviet military operation in Angola. He has said that he only spent a few weeks in Angola. During this time in Africa, he also learned how to speak Xhosa and Zulu.

After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Bout went to Moscow and said that his plane regularly flew to Afghanistan, but he still denied having any contact with al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Instead, he said, he helped the rebel Northern Alliance.

Al-Qaeda is said to have moved gold and cash out of Afghanistan soon after the War in Afghanistan started. In an interview with The New York Times in July 2003, Bout said, “I woke up after September 11 and found I was only second to Osama.”

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Viktor Bout Net Worth

An indictment from the U.S. Justice Department from 2010 says that Bout and Chichakli set up Samar Airlines in Tajikistan in 2004 to launder money and hide assets from the authorities. Bout is thought to have given weapons to many armed groups in Africa in the 2000s, especially during the Second Congo War in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He may have hired up to 300 people and run between 40 and 60 planes.

In 2002, it is said that Bout’s network sent surface-to-air missiles to Kenya so that they could be used to attack an Israeli airliner as it was taking off.

People say they saw Bout meeting with Hezbollah officials in Lebanon before the 2006 Lebanon War, but some sources say he was actually in Russia at the time.

Records found in Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s former intelligence headquarters in Tripoli shortly after the Gaddafi government was overthrown in 2011 showed that in late September 2003, British intelligence officials told Libyan intelligence chief Musa Kusa that Bout had a “considerable commercial presence in Libya” and wanted to grow his business there.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Times said that the U.S. government and its contractors paid about $60 million to Bout-controlled companies to fly supplies into Iraq to help American troops. The paper called Bout a “Linchpin” of American supply lines in Iraq.


Viktor Bout Net Worth

Authorities had a hard time catching Bout because he moved around a lot, owned multiple businesses, and changed the registration on his planes often. He is famous for supposed arms deals in Africa, but he has never been charged with anything.

During the time that Bout is said to have been working, he is thought to have lived in different countries, such as Belgium, Lebanon, Rwanda, Russia, South Africa, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. In 2000, Bout was charged with making fake documents in the Central African Republic. He was found guilty in his absence, but the charges were later dropped.

The Belgian government asked Interpol to warn Bout that he is wanted for money laundering. In 2002, Bout was given a red notice from Interpol. Bout’s website says that because he didn’t show up in court, a Belgian warrant (not an Interpol notice) was issued for his arrest, but it was later taken off the books.

The site has a document written in Dutch that backs up the claim that the Belgian case against him was dropped because he didn’t have a fixed place to live and the case couldn’t be brought to court on time.

In July 2004, Bout’s U.S. assets were frozen because of Executive Order 13348. This order called him a “Businessman, Dealer, and Transporter of Weapons and Minerals” and said that he was close with Charles Taylor.

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How Was He Captured By The Police?

Viktor Bout Net Worth

At the beginning of 2008, a US DEA informant who said he worked for the Colombian rebel group FARC and was not working for the CIA talked with Bout about sending 100 9K38 Igla surface-to-air missiles and armor-piercing rocket launchers to Colombia by parachute. The fakes told Bout he could meet their leader in Thailand.

He was charged with terrorism crimes like conspiring to get and use an anti-aircraft missile, conspiring to give material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, conspiring to kill US citizens, and conspiring to kill US officers or employees. As part of Plan Colombia, the US military attacked a group of rebels in Colombia. None of the crimes were done in the United States.

The Royal Thai Police arrested Bout in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 6, 2008, after the United States asked Interpol for a “red notice” about a plot to give material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

After months of waiting, Bout’s extradition hearing at the Criminal Court in Bangkok started on September 22, 2008. In February 2009, members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking that the Bout extradition “remain a top priority.”

On August 11, 2009, the Bangkok Criminal Court ruled in his favor. It said that the case was political, not criminal, and turned down the United States request to extradite him. The United States tried to change that decision. A higher court in Thailand decided on August 20, 2010, that Bout could be sent to the US.

On November 16, 2010, Bout was sent from Thailand to the U.S. despite protests from the Russian government, which thought it was against the law.

On December 8, 2022, Bout was sent back to Russia. As soon as it was clear that Whelan would not be included in the prisoner exchange, Biden said, “We haven’t given up on getting Paul’s release yet, and we won’t.”

After Getting Back To Russia

Viktor Bout Net Worth

In an interview with Maria Butina for RT on December 9, 2022, Viktor Bout said that he didn’t think he was important for Russian politics. On December 10, Bout said he agreed with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and would join if he had the chance and skills.

On December 12, 2022, Leonid Slutsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, said that Bout had joined the party.

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Personal life

Viktor Bout Net Worth

He has been married to Alla Vladimirovna Bout since 1992. (born in 1970 in Leningrad). Alla is an artist, a designer, and a fashion designer. She used to own clothing stores in the UAE, Germany, South Africa, and Russia. In the late 1980s, Viktor Bout met the woman who would become his wife in Mozambique.

He was working as a translator from Portuguese for the Soviet military mission there at the time. This was the second time Alla got married. In 1994, his daughter was born in the UAE. Sergey Anatolyevich Bout, the older brother and former business partner, still runs an aviation business in the United Arab Emirates (Sharjah) and Bulgaria.

Viktor Bout is a vegetarian. He says he doesn’t follow any religion, but he looks up to Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Ilyin as spiritual leaders and “shares the views” of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Zarathustra, and Krishna.

Bout mastered various languages while incarcerated, including English, French, Portuguese, Tajik, Farsi, Dari, Zulu, Xhosa, and Esperanto.

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