Sig Sauer CEO faces trial in Germany over arms trade to Colombia

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A photo of the handgun allegedly sold to Colombia via the USA
The Sig SP2022

In 2009, Sig Sauer, a firearms company based in New Hampshire, USA, secured a $306 million deal with the Colombian National Police to provide nearly 100,00 hand guns. The deal is now at the centre of a court case in Germany, where Ron Cohen, the CEO of Sig Sauer faces up to five years in jail, accused of conspiring to mislead German officials on the nature of the arms sale. Cohen was arrested at Frankfurt airport in October and released on bail. Four other executives were indicted in April, but charges against two were dropped. The trial is to begin on the 26th February.

Cohen is accused of conspiring with Sig Sauer's Germany-based sister company to violate the countries relatively strict export rules, that prohibited the sale of weapons to countries in conflict, including Colombia. Officials allege that 38,000 pistols were manufactured in Eckernförde in Germany and shipped to the factory in the USA, which then completed the transaction, and that false paperwork was submitted, including end-use certificates stating that the weapons would only be used in the USA. The prosecutors office allege that Sig Sauer in the USA lacked the production facilities for the order until 2011, and turned to the German branch for help. Sig Sauer released a statement to a firearms blog in October 2018 say that it “complied with US law”. Both the German and US companies are owned by German conglomerate L&O Holdings.

In 2014, Aktion Aufschrei – an organisation based in Germany taking action against the arms trade – were sent documents by a whistleblower that showed the final destination was Colombia, not the USA. The organisations lawyer, Holger Rothbauer, told a news website “Sig Sauer just retagged the big boxes and without opening them just delivered them to Colombia.” The documents prompted a four year investigation by German prosecutors.

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