CEO of U.S. Gun-Maker Faces Jail Charges

Sig Sauer Pistol

via Wikimedia Commons

Sig Sauer Pistol

Ten years after the company Sig Sauer made a deal to sell “306 million dollars worth of pistols to Columbia’s National Police”. The company’s CEO “Ron Cohen” is facing jail time in Germany for making these sales.

German prosecutors accuse Cohen of colluding with Sig’s sister company in Germany to violate that country’s export rules. Under German law, companies are prohibited from selling firearms or other weapons to countries in times of conflict. Therefore since Ron Cohen was doing this he is facing jail time. Columbia is a country slowly emerging from a half-century of armed conflict.

Many German officials allege Sig Sauer manufactured at least 38,000 pistols in the company’s facilities in the town of Eckernforde, Germany between 2009 and 2011, before shipping the weapons to the U.S. entity’s headquarters in New Hampshire, which then completed the transaction to Columbia. Sig Sauer is alleged to have covered up the shipment’s final destination. The company did it by submitting false paperwork. This is known as “the end-use certificates”, to Germany export officials, stating that the weapons were bound solely for the United States.

The stakes for Ron Cohen are serious. If convicted, he faces up to five years in jail and millions of dollars in fines. Last week, a German court “found arms-maker Heckler & Koch” guilty of similar export-related charges involving the sale of weapons to Mexico. “While a former CEO was acquitted, two employees received suspended jail sentences, and the company was ordered to repay $4.2 million”.

Many details of the Sig Sauer case remain unclear, in part because German prosecutors keep documents related to the charges against Ron Cohen remain sealed until the trial begins on Feb. 26.

The corporate relationship between the German and the U.S. based Sig’s companies is also not very clear. “L&O Holding, a conglomerate based in Germany, owns both the German and U.S.-based Sig Sauer companies”, as well as a third firm, Swiss Arms. The companies appear to operate as an independent entity, though it isn’t clear how closely they could collaborate.

In addition to Ron Cohen, two German executives have also been charged in the alleged plot. “Michael Luke, who co-owns L&O Holding, and a man identified by the courts as “Robert L.” The company, separately, is also facing substantial fines”. The trial, which will take place in the city of Kiel, Germany is scheduled to conclude in late June.

“Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire operations didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, but the company did release a statement to a firearms blog in October saying that its actions were in “compliance with U.S. law.” The company doesn’t deny that it may have violated German law, however”.