People involved in an effort to procure over 200 Parrot Anafi USA drones for Ukraine forces battling Russian troops fear they’ve been bilked by intermediaries in Poland who delivered only six of the UAVs, and have failed to return over half a million dollars after the order was canceled.
According to a report this week by Polish TV station TVN24 (and translated online for use in this account), the troubled transaction began when Ukraine businessman Taras Troiak was tasked with buying $1.6 million worth of Parrot Anafi USA drones on behalf of the company Quadra.ua. The firm planned on providing the craft to Ukraine fighters as surveillance and intelligence-gathering assets against Russian invaders. To date, Troiak says, only six of the UAVs have been delivered, and about $540,000 of the total paid in advance to finance the now canceled deal has not been returned.
As a result, Polish prosecutors have been petitioned to look into the affair for evidence of fraud and other criminal offenses.
The circuitous chain of events began in early March, when Troiak says his direct contacts with Parrot about the purchase referred him to an official distributor in Poland. From there he was steered to a well-known Warsaw munitions company, and put in touch with its representative, identified as Darius M.
Darius M. reportedly assured Troiak in email exchanges that the requested 206 Parrot Anafi drones could be delivered to Quadra.ua in Ukraine within two weeks. Troiak insists that short time frame was “was crucial for us” in doing the deal, even ahead of the price factor. Things got complicated from there.
According to TVN24, Darius M. was soon summarily fired after discovery he’d split the deal so that his employer would provide just six of the UAVs, with the remaining 200 to be supplied by the small, outside firm Level 11. Troiak paid the $1.6 million for the transaction in advance and promptly received the promised six Anafi USA drones from the munitions company. It was only then he was told the remaining 200 would take five weeks to arrive.
“It was unacceptable,” Troiak said. “I informed (them) that I was terminating the contract, I demanded the return of ($1.6 million) transferred.”
Level 11 returned $966,000 of that advance, but is hanging on to the remainder – at least for now – claiming the Ukraine client had failed to provide adequate documentation. Troias insists the rest of the money for undelivered drones be returned immediately. A lawyer representing Quadra.ua has reportedly filed a formal complaint that Polish prosecutors are following up on.
Emails reviewed indicate the Ukraine Embassy in Warsaw has gotten involved in the dispute, and may be interfacing with justice officials. But no matter how the saga turns out – with full reimbursement or criminal charges of fraud – besieged Ukraine troops needing all the help they can get against Russian forces are still having to do without the badly needed Parrot Anafi USA drones.