September 19 2014
– The largest bounty hunt in history is underway – after anonymous donors handed a German private detective company $30million (£18.3million) to find out who shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
The plane was shot out of the air on July 17 over Russian rebel territory in eastern Ukraine, and someone is so desperate to uncover the mystery that they have promised this huge war-chest.
The task has been given to fraud investigation company Wifka, based in Schleswig-Holstein in north Germany.
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A $30million bounty has been offered up to anyone who can find out who shot down flight MH17 in July +4
A $30million bounty has been offered up to anyone who can find out who shot down flight MH17 in July
There is an ongoing investigation into the tragedy, which left all 298 people on board dead, but it was made difficult by Russian separatists, who had control of the area where the plane crashed and were also largely blamed for shooting down the flight.
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‘After the terrible assassination or “accident” all political parties, at home and abroad, said they owed it to the victims, their families and the public to clarify the circumstances of the crash and present evidence for what happened. None of this has yet been done,’ said Wifka in a statement reported by The Local.
The bounty hunt is being led Josef Resch, who has 30 years of private investigation experience and told Capital finance magazine: ‘Everyone can be bought, it’s just a question of how much.’
The tragedy left 298 passengers and crew members dead when the plane was brought down over Ukraine +4
The tragedy left 298 passengers and crew members dead when the plane was brought down over Ukraine
The bounty is the biggest of all time – beating that offered for clues leading to Osama bin Laden’s capture +4
The bounty is the biggest of all time – beating that offered for clues leading to Osama bin Laden’s capture
Remains of MH17 litter field in eastern Ukraine (Archive)
Mr Resch confirmed that he had already received a 40,000 euro fee, and had no doubt about the seriousness of the promised bounty.
Wifka said that whoever can tell them what they need to know – who was involved in the shooting, who covered up the truth and what happened to the weapon – will get the $30million.
The company added that anyone who does provide information will be provided with a new identity, for protection.
The bounty is being held in Zurich, but Wifka say they do not know who has put it up.
The only information is that one of the middlemen spoke with a Swiss accent.
The huge sum is being offered by German fraud investigation company Wifka, with the money held in Zurich +4
The huge sum is being offered by German fraud investigation company Wifka, with the money held in Zurich
The $30million bounty is $5million more than the previous largest of all time – the $25million offered up for clues that might lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden.
The detective in charge of the official investigation into the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight said last week that the plane was most likely shot down from the ground.
‘It’s going to be a long investigation. I don’t rule out that we can identify a suspect and bring this to a prosecution,’ said Detective Fred Westerbeke after revealing the theory that the flight was shot down was ‘the one getting the most attention’ from the Dutch National Prosecutors Office.
It has previously speculated the flight was brought down accidentally by pro-Russian rebels fighting over territory in eastern Ukraine.
The theory that the Kremlin aided rebel fighters by supplying them with weapons has been vehemently denied by President Vladimir Putin.
Shortly after the disaster in July, a highly placed rebel revealed in a press interview that the plane had been shot down by a mixed team of rebels and Russian military personnel who believed they were targeting a Ukrainian military plane.
Intercepted phone calls between fighters supported his claims.
Dutch police chief Patricia Zorko said detectives were considering more than 300 million web pages and thousands of images as part of the investigation into the tragedy.
– Alex Finnis