The name on the door said the office, in Vivian Avenue, Hendon, was the home of Travelour (UK) Ltd, a travel agency and import-export business, but it was locked and its operators had vanished, cancelling the newspapers in their wake.
Attention focused on the address because it was from there four years ago that a man called Anoop engaged a firm of accountants to act for another company, Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd. Mil-Tec was the company name on invoices for arms, totalling some pounds 3.3m, found on a bus abandoned at a Hutu refugee camp in eastern Zaire on Sunday.
The discovery led Labour to call for an inquiry yesterday and for the Prime Minister's office to express concern at suggestions that a British company had breached a UN embargo imposed in May 1994 while soldiers of the Rwandan army were slaughtering up to a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The documents, found by a BBC reporter, show that Mil-Tec, registered in the Isle of Man, had supplied millions of rounds of ammunition, thousands of AK-47 rifles, grenade launchers, hundreds of rockets and tens of thousands of mortar bombs and grenades. The shipments went on until well into July 1994.
Yesterday the men behind Mil-Tec were lying low. The company is fronted by a nominee company, Business Management Services Nominees Ltd, and a professional company secretary, John Donnelly, of BMS Company Secretaries, based on Sark, in the Channel Islands. Neither company has a listed phone number and Mr Donnelly's number is ex-directory. Under Isle of Man company law, the beneficial owners of a company can remain anonymous.
However, a lead was provided by Dhiri & Co, a firm of accountants in Hove, which said it had been contacted by a man called Anoop four years ago who asked for book-keeping services. "We agreed we would do the book- keeping but we never heard from them again," said a member of the firm. "We had no idea that they were using our address and telephone number on their company stationery. I think we have been well and truly conned."
He said he had been contacted by a man from the company whom he knew and had been assured they were involved simply in import-export trading. "We had no idea that they were involved in dealing with arms ...this has all come out of the blue."
The address given by Anoop is now occupied by Travelour. Its sole director is listed as Anjana Vidyarthi, 43, of Allington Road, Hendon; the company secretary is Kumar Rakeesh Gupta, of Spencer Road, Isleworth, west London, and the principal shareholder is named as Sneh Mehta, although no address is listed at Companies House for Mr Mehta.
The Vidyarthi residence was deserted yesterday. At the Gupta home, a woman describing herself as Mr Gupta's sister-in-law, also called Gupta, said Mr Gupta had been on holiday in Nairobi for a month. Asked if there was an Anoop in the company, she replied: "Yes, he's the boss. Anoop Vidyarthi." It is understood Mr Vidyarthi, 47, is the husband of Anjana Vidyarthi. Neighbours described them as Kenyan Asians. Mrs Gupta said the business was involved in travel and some import-export, but not arms. "I know my brother-in-law well. He would not get involved in anything like that."Reuse content