JFM welcomes German criminal investigation into ND SatCom

October 18, 2023

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The German state prosecutor’s office in Ravensburg has launched a criminal investigation into ND SatCom GmbH for supplying communications equipment to the Myanmar military, including after its illegal coup attempt.  

The criminal investigation follows a complaint filed by German Solidarity with Myanmar Democracy e. V. with the attorney Holger Rothbauer, based on evidence and research provided by Justice For Myanmar. The opening of the investigation was first reported by ZDF frontal and Spiegel.  

ND SatCom is a German satellite communications corporation based in Immenstaad that, according to its website, “provides all the core competencies necessary for the design, turnkey delivery and logistic support of military satcom systems”. The company is owned by Steffen Görig, a German entrepreneur who acquired it from Airbus in 2014. ND SatCom has subsidiaries in China and Dubai.

Since at least 2016, ND SatCom has provided significant support for the Myanmar Army’s satellite communications system, including 5G satellite communications hardware and software for use in the army’s Meiktila hub, fixed station and manpack systems.

In 2017, as the Myanmar military was committing genocide against the Rohingya, ND SatCom listed a SKYWAN Communications on the Move (COTM) system for Myanmar in the defence section of a webpage titled, “Why ND SatCom was so successful in 2017”. The page has since been taken offline.

ND SatCom equipment has been sent from Vietnam to the Myanmar military as recently as October 2021, following the military’s illegal coup attempt, when satellite modems were shipped to the army’s Directorate of Procurement.

Leaked and open-source evidence shows that equipment was brokered by the private Myanmar company Terabit Wave Company Limited, a subsidiary of the crony A1 Group of Companies, in partnership with the Vietnamese company, OSB Investment and Technology JSC (“OSB”). OSB claims to be a leader in defence communications and has its own research and development program.

Terabit Wave and OSB operate a joint venture in Myanmar, Com & Com Company Limited, which provides military and civilian satellite services, including the maintenance of ND SatCom equipment for the Myanmar Army’s Directorate of Signals.  

In 2019, ND SatCom appointed Terabit Wave as its dealer to sell satellite communications equipment in Myanmar, and to negotiate and sign contracts. The authorisation was part of a 2019 contract between Terabit Wave and the Myanmar Army’s Directorate of Procurement that also involved Com & Com, which was leaked to Justice For Myanmar.

ND Satcom equipment has been supplied to the Myanmar military via the Singapore companies Bright Sky Pte. Ltd. and Interspace Engineering Service Pte. Ltd. Bright Sky Group, a subsidiary of A1 Group of Companies, was struck off in 2023, after it was named as an arms broker by Justice For Myanmar. Interspace Engineering Service is owned by Nguyen Hong Son, who is the co-founder, chairperson and chief executive officer of OSB and a director of Com & Com.  

Justice For Myanmar calls for sanctions against A1 Group of Companies, OSB Investment and Technology JSC, and their directors and owners for their support to the Myanmar military and complicity in its international crimes.

Vietnam and Singapore, which are both ASEAN members and voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution calling on “all Member States to prevent the flow of arms to Myanmar”, should immediately end all transfers of arms, equipment, technology and funds to the junta.

Singapore should investigate Bright Sky Group and Interspace Engineering Service for supplying dual use goods to Myanmar through its territory.

Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung says: “We welcome the opening of a criminal investigation into ND SatCom by the German public prosecutor’s office in Ravensburg.

“We urge German authorities to take swift action against ND SatCom and to cut off the Myanmar junta’s access to German equipment and technology.

“The Myanmar military is responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed with total impunity, aided by ND SatCom communications technology.

“Satellite communications is essential for military command and control. In Myanmar, improved satellite communications capabilities from ND SatCom support the military’s indiscriminate killings, torture, rape, the razing of whole villages, the destruction of food and forced mass displacement.

“Prosecution is an important step towards accountability for the transfer of arms and dual use goods to the Myanmar military, and to prevent future arms transfers from Germany and the European Union, but they need to be widened to all companies involved in the illegal supply of arms and dual use goods to the Myanmar military.

“Both Germany and the EU have laws in place to prevent the transfer of arms and dual use goods to the genocidal Myanmar military, but governments have repeatedly failed to enforce them, enabling the military to gain access to equipment and technology that supports ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity.  

“Germany must show that breaches of the law will not be tolerated, and we call on other EU member states whose companies have illegally transferred arms, equipment and technology to investigate and hold them accountable.”

More information:

See reporting on ND SatCom’s business with the Myanmar military in ZDF frontal here and Spiegel here

See our feature on Myanmar and Singapore arms brokers here

See a printout from the ND SatCom website that mentions their business in Myanmar here

See a leaked copy of ND SatCom’s manufacturer’s authorisation to Terabit Wave here

View recent records of shipments of ND SatCom equipment from Vietnam to Myanmar here