An administrator at a Chinese firm has reported that the stolen passports used by a pair of Iranian men to board the missing Malaysian jetliner were used last year by two men applying for visas to China.
In a new report, an employee of a Chinese company that imports foreign entertainers said that in June the passports were used by two men, one supposedly named Christian Kozel, an Austrian, and the other one Luigi Maraldi, an Italian.
In the interview, Xie Zhuoling, an office manager for Ningxi Overseas Prosperity Cultural Import. Co., said, “I remember at the time, these contracts looked very suspicious. Normally when we recruit performers they are from the Philippines or Russia, where wages are cheap, not Western European countries like Italy and Austria.”
The Chinese businessman said that the announcement that investigators were looking into the passports and that they were being used by two Iranian men on Flight MH370 jogged his memory, and he looked back into his own records and discovered the same names.
“I was very scared. I went to the police,” Xie said.
Xie also said that the two men were supposed to fly into China through Kuala Lumpur and that this was unusual for his business. Usually, Xie said, his workers fly in from Moscow, Kyiv, or Dubai.
Investigators believe the passports were purchased through a gang in Thailand that deals in false identification papers.
The Chinese businessman said he doesn’t know what the men he thought he hired looked like, and no further records exist in his company.
According to authorities, the Iranians using the passports were identified as 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammed Mehrdad and 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammed Reza.
Officials at Interpol, however, are not calling the two Iranians terrorists. Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble has said that the two men were probably just using the forged passports for employment or were part of a human smuggling operation.