– FBI entrapped David Painter in fake $15million deal to arm the presidential guard in Gabon
– He was forced to sell £1.5m home and sell shares to cover his legal costs
– The 58-year-old slept on a concrete floor with 24 hour a day electric lighting in prison
– He said: ‘After I was arrested I felt as if I’d just dropped off the radar of my real life, as though I’d disappeared into the American prison system and would never be discovered’
May 28, 2012
In the chill of a Nevada morning, David Painter left his Las Vegas hotel. Wearing a Hugo Boss suit and a blue Brooks Brothers shirt, a Rolex on his wrist, he bore the anonymous affluence of business travel. For a defence industry executive his first diary appointment was routine: a weapons demonstration at a training range just outside the city limits.
It was as his 4×4 arrived at the range that the FBI SWAT team appeared to take him down. Four hulking police commandos in body armour, jackboots, helmets and goggles thrust their semi-automatic rifles through his car door. ‘Shut up and get out,’ they ordered, the array of close combat weapons on their waist belts brooking no refusal.
The middle-aged Briton was handcuffed and led at gunpoint into a pastel two-storey classroom building. There on a desk he found a large cardboard box awaiting his briefcase and laptop, his telephone and wallet. On it was stapled his mug shot and a charge sheet. Across the top were the typewritten words ‘Armed and Dangerous’.
Painter was neither. He was the Surrey-based chief executive of 3S (Security Support Solutions Ltd), a company licensed and audited by the British Government to supply civilian armoured vehicles for use in conflict zones including Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan. He was also, it was to emerge that day in Vegas, the victim of a huge, sleazy and ultimately doomed FBI operation known as The Africa Sting.