War profiteer profile: Société d'Application des Procédés Lefebvre (SAPL)

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Heavily armed police officers in silhouette. One is firing a shotgun.
Lebanese police officers fire on protesters. Image: @mgdowney via Twitter

We are grateful to the work of Stop Fuelling War, who provided much of the information used in this profile.

Société d'Application des Procédés Lefebvre (SAPL) is a French company that specialises in the manufacture of weapons and equipment for use by law enforcement, including “non-lethal” weapons, ammunitions, aerosols, shields and silencers. They also provide training in the products they manufacture. 60-70% of SAPL’s income comes from the French government, but SAPL also exports to a number of other countries. In 2022, the company reported income of €2.7m.

The company was formed in 1983 by Jean Lefebvre, following a patent that for a design for a less-lethal bullet in 1979. The Lefebvre family had a long history of manufacturing weapons. The company remains under the control of members of the same family. The company manufactures its products in Gauville in northern France, where it also has its head offices.

SAPL has exhibited at a range of arms fairs, such as Milipol Asia-Pacific and Milipol in France in 2022.

Controversies

In September 2023 SAPL was fined €150,000 (including €75,000 suspended), having exported grenades between 2012 to a number of countries – including those with troubling human rights records – without respecting French customs obligations. It is understood that the exports were worth €715,000 and went to ten countries, including Japan, Congo, Togo, Saudi Arabia and Madagascar.

The company is also under investigation following accusations for suspected bribery of foreign public officials over the last decade, with a verdict expected in March 2024.

Lebanon

Amnesty International has reported that SAPL equipment has been identified as being used by Lebanese security forces against peaceful protesters in 2015 and 2019. Amnesty said that SAPL Gomm-Cogne ammunition calibre cartridges were identified in videos shot during the protests. The french publication Libération shared Facebook images from people in Lebanon, which appear to show cartridges marked with SAPL’s logo.

Programmes & Projects
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Theme
Police militarisation theme

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