'Export ban' for arms maker SIG Sauer over Colombia guns

SIG Sauer pistols in a Colombian police armoury in 2010 Colombia says it bought 64,500 SIG Sauer pistols from the US in a government-to-government purchase

Related Stories

Germany has imposed an export ban on arms maker SIG Sauer after guns manufactured by the German company were found to have been sold to the Colombian police, German media report.

Under German law, arms exports require a special licence which is not normally granted for countries where there is armed conflict, such as Colombia.

Colombia says it bought almost 65,000 SIG Sauer pistols for its police force from the US Department of Defense.

SIG Sauer denies any wrongdoing.

Headquarters raided

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcasters NDR and WDR say that German export officials imposed the ban at the beginning of July.

An employee of German-Swiss weapon manufacturer SIG Sauer holds a SIG Sauer SP 2022 9mm pistol at the SIG Sauer stand at the European Police Congress in Berlin on 15 February, 2011. SIG Sauer says it sold the guns to the US and the responsibility for them lies with the US authorities

The German federal office for export controls has also reportedly launched a probe to determine whether SIG Sauer is a "reliable exporter".

Prosecutors in the state of Schleswig-Holstein raided SIG Sauer's headquarters earlier this month.

The prosecutors were already investigating the company over alleged illegal weapons exports to Kazakhstan and recently widened their probe to include the alleged illegal sales to Colombia.

According to a joint investigation by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and NDR, SIG Sauer sold the guns to the US knowing they would be exported to Colombia despite not having a licence to do so.

But SIG Sauer says it complied with all the legal requisites required for the export.

'Calm'

Between 2009 and 2011, the company shipped thousands of guns to its subsidiary in the US state of New Hampshire.

Colombian police officers practice shooting at a base in Pijaos, Colombia, in November 2010 The US has spent billions of dollars training and equipping the Colombian police and military

German officials say they granted the required licence for those exports after receiving written assurances by US officials that the weapons would remain in the United States.

However, Colombian police officers say they have been issued with SIG Sauer weapons bearing the inscription "Made in Germany".

The Colombian defence ministry confirmed it had purchased almost 65,000 SIG Sauer pistols from the United States since 2006.

Colombian defence officials said they had bought the guns directly from their US counterparts through the Foreign Military Sales Programme.

Under the programme, the US can sell "defence articles and services" to foreign countries when the US president "formally finds that to do so will strengthen the security of the US and promote world peace".

"We are completely calm about this purchase, because it was done legally government to government. If Germany requires some sort of explanation, it should come from the US," a Colombian defence official told newspaper El Tiempo.

US ban?

In a statement, SIG Sauer also said that after their sale to the US, the responsibility for the weapons lay with Washington.

"We have International Import Certificates (IC) issued by the relevant US authorities for all of our shipments. Through an IC the country declares that the goods - once they have entered the country - will come under its rules governing exports and therefore come under its responsibility," the statement reads.

SIG Sauer said it was not aware of any wrongdoing on its part and would fully co-operate with the investigation.

According to German government guidelines, a country which does not stop an unlicensed shipment could be banned from receiving future arms exports.

US authorities have not yet commented on the allegations.

The US spent billions of dollars helping equip and train the Colombian military and police in its effort to combat drug trafficking and left-wing rebels.

More than 220,000 people are estimated to have been killed in five decades of armed conflict in the South American nation.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features

  • PlanesTest of nerve

    WW1 fighter pilots who navigated using a school atlas


  • Pauline Borghese What the butler saw

    Scandalous tales from the British embassy in Paris


  • A baby holds an adult's fingerSmall Data

    The time when the average age of death was zero


  • League of LegendsBattle for glory

    On the ground at League of Legends World Championship's final


  • Vinyl record pressing in AustraliaVinyl vibe

    Getting into the groove with Australia's last record maker


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.