The tank mogul of Tournai: The warehouse of Freddy Versluys and his 50 tanks

He is a 61-year-old man and has 50 tanks in his backyard, bought them for thousands of euros and now wants to sell them for millions.

He does not like to be called an arms dealer, but the truth is that Freddy Versluys has a warehouse full of second-hand tanks that he is willing to send to Ukraine in exchange for a huge profit.

This guy owns a huge hangar in Tournai, 100 kilometers from Brussels, lined up perfectly in impeccable green and black rows, and without a speck of dust on their 105 mm guns, there are 50 Leopard I tanks.

Kyiv needs them, believing they would help stop the Russian army’s fear of advancing.

Who is Freddy, the owner of the tanks?

Freddy Versluys is a 61-year-old Belgian businessman who, five years ago, bought 50 dilapidated Leopard I tanks that the country’s army wanted to decommission. He kept them in a warehouse in Tournai in the hope that someone would need their parts.

He is CEO of OIP Land Systems, a Defense company that bought them years ago at a lower balance and is willing to resell them to the State, or any country it wants, for a few hundred thousand euros a unit, so if you’re interested in armored cars . . you know.

Now, he is asking for millions of euros.

Currently, the Ministry of Defense is outraged because Versluys, who paid a few thousand euros for each part, is asking them for up to a million per repaired vehicle to send to Ukraine.

“It is not that easy to get all those tanks operational quickly. We don’t have the industrial capacity to do that in the short term, so either way we would have to get help. We are in the midst of looking at what the condition of the vehicles is now and what needs to be done to them.”

Freddy Versluys

What was his gamble?

The businessman claims that he paid around 40,000 euros for each tank because they were no longer in condition, and the government wanted to get rid of them. He did it, he explains, as a gamble, thinking that maybe someone might want one in the future.

And it worked out well for him, as Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder says he paid 15,000 euros for each one and is now asking them for up to a million, which is “not reasonable.”

“What do I charge for such a tank? That depends on what is expected of us, but our prices conform to the market. A tank that is completely in order easily costs more than a million.”

Freddy Versluys

Versluys is willing to listen to offers, including from Zelensky’s own government, which has called to inquire about the condition of the material, how long it would take to resurrect them, and what the chances would be of getting them to the battlefield.

If Versluys eventually manages to sell his vehicles, it will likely be to foreign governments, as he says no talks are underway with Belgium for the time being.