Elie Sben Chedly, a name not widely known to the public, holds a pivotal role in orchestrating military deals and armament transactions for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Europe. He is often referred to as the “Godfather” of these operations due to his significant influence and involvement in the realm of international arms trading.
Chedly’s involvement extends to a notable instance where the UAE sought to improve its image in France and Europe through the “Year of Tolerance” campaign in 2019. This campaign was orchestrated with the financial backing of the UAE and was designed to present a more positive image of the nation. Elie Sben Chedly, a French national of Tunisian origin holding both Tunisian and French passports, was intricately linked to this initiative. He currently resides in France and has a background that includes work as a chartered accountant at the Consulate General of France in Dubai and advisory roles for the French government.
Leaked documents shed light on the intricate web of connections in which Chedly operates. In particular, these documents point to payments made to Chedly by Ali Bin Hamad al-Shamsi, the UAE’s Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council for National Security. One payment was directed to Udaïpur FZE, an offshore company registered in the tax haven of Ras Al-Khaimah, and the other was a cash payment. These transactions raise questions about the nature of Chedly’s involvement in UAE-related activities.
Chedly’s influence doesn’t stop there. He previously held positions such as the Head of the Friendship Department of the Union of the Mediterranean and CEO of Eurasia. Documents reveal that European defense companies entrusted Chedly with a mandate to act as an intermediary for arms sales to the International Golden Group (IGG), a company based in Abu Dhabi. He operated in his capacity as the General Manager of Udaïpur FZE, which is also situated in the tax haven of Ras Al-Khaimah, Dubai.
The leaked documents illuminate Chedly’s crucial role as a mediator in arms deals for the UAE with defense companies in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Poland. For instance, the Hartford International Group in Bulgaria, closely linked to the Bulgarian government, assigned Chedly to represent them to the UAE government and relevant authorities, facilitating arms and military equipment sales. This partnership with the IGG led to transactions such as the sale of anti-tank mines and anti-tank guided missiles from different sources.
Chedly’s reach extends to the Czech Republic as well, where he represented the Excalibur Army to the UAE government for the sale of various defense equipment, including infantry fighting vehicles and tanks. Similar agreements were struck in partnership with the IGG in Abu Dhabi.
In 2018, Chedly received a mandate to represent Czech Defense System a.s., aimed at selling heavy infantry machine guns to the UAE government. These deals were also facilitated through the IGG.
Polish defense companies were not left out, as the IGG received price quotes for the purchase of AK-47 rifles and bullets in 2018. This further highlights Chedly’s role as a key intermediary in international arms trade.
Chedly’s influence is not limited to specific countries; he played a role in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Iraq, making him a central figure in the global arms and military equipment market. His involvement underscores the intricate nature of military dealings and arms trade in the contemporary world.