Smith & Wesson Settles Bribing Foreign Officials Charges

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CNN reports that Smith & Wesson has settled with the US Government for charges of bribing foreign officials. The settlement is reportedly $2 million for violations from 2007 and 2010.  Smith & Wesson agreed to the settlement without admitting or deny the findings of the SEC.

In one case, the SEC says Smith & Wesson provided more than $11,000 worth of guns as a gift to Pakistani police officials there. That deal won the gun maker a contract to sell 548 pistols to the police department for a profit of $107,852.

While that was the only corrupt contract ultimately fulfilled, the SEC says the company also tried to secure sales contracts by bribing officials at an Indonesian police department, as well as foreign officials in Turkey, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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Violating FCPA is a big deal in the defense industry and I am surprised that Smith & Wesson was able to get off so easy considering the current administration. My guess is that there was no ITAR violations and very little hard evidence. As part of the settlement, Smith & Wesson “agreed to fire its international sales staff.”

Sales guys, start polishing your resumes.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • USMC03Vet

    I’m sure this type of thing is the norm out in the real world, but anti competitive business laws to hold back American industry is so hot these days. No wonder we can’t compete globally.

    Only reason CNN is reporting his is to push negative news regarding firearms which is why they have a video on their domain right in between this story regarding absurd anti firearm advocacy resulting in policy change.

    Barf city.

    • You may be right about the reason for CNN reporting it. This is just business as usual in those countries.

      • greensoup

        This is like first day training in business ethics at any medium to large company. Only a fool would do something so blatant. Companies get caught for this once in a while. Its not bias. Except maybe that they didn’t point out the S&W reps were morons.

  • hacedeca

    I always wondered why the Glock is not more widespread in gov agencies beside the FBI. It is probably harder to bribe all the regional police offices than the state agencies.

    But, Heh – firearms not politics!

    • Man pippy

      I think it’s obvious why state agencies favor sig sauer, it’s sexier. Easier to justify your existence with a sexier pistol. Cause Glocks are ridiculously cheap to manufacture, something like $70 bucks.

  • Secundius

    What I know about the law is. If your Plea-Bargaining for a Settlement Amount. Your already admitting guilt.

    • Jeff

      I work in the area of state criminal law, not international commerce, so perhaps you are more educated than I am in this realm. But my experience is that guilty people and innocent people are roughly equally likely to cut a plea deal. Nobody trusts the courts to reach a just verdict–not the defense; not the prosecution.

      • Man pippy

        At least in civilian cases something like 90% of criminals are found guilty, if you plea non-guilty you get much harsher sentence. Innocent before proven guilty, my ass.

  • James

    Although the EU has made some noises about FCPA-like regulations, Europeans still routinely engage in bribes to win contracts in the less developed countries. They are far better at it than we are (American businessmen, as corrupt as they may be in the eyes of the public, are still quite the moralists compared to Old World, that is, European and Asian, businessmen).
    For that matter, FCPA still allows for “grease payments” to expedite routine businesses activities such as clearing customs. And other, more substantial bribes can be passed through local agents by less transparent means, including in the local offset elements.
    S&W got off easy because their violations were pretty piddling. And small arms sales are tiny potatoes in the first place. The real money (and bribes) happen with serious arms/tech transfers.

    In my view, this was just a tiny slap on the wrist designed to embarrass an economically tiny but politically symbolic firearms company rather than a serious case of going after defense industry corruption.

  • CavScout

    I have no problem with a firearms manufacturer gifting some guns for free, for those officials to test, etc, to decide to buy their product. I don’t think one police chief needs or wants the same of a single pistol. I’m sure they were distributed. Since when are free samples illegal?

    • Secundius

      @ CavScout.

      Its like being at a grocery store, on a aisle that sells both Cocoa-Cola and Pepsi products. And then being told you can only sell Cocoa-Cola products. That’s bribery.

  • Fruitbat44

    Gave away a few freebies to build up a favourable impression? Or out-and-out bribery? Hmmm . . . I guess a jury won’t have to rule on that one.
    Settling out of court seems odd when it’s effectively a criminal case, but I gather that it’s often considered cheaper to pay up out of court than spend money on legal fees fighting your case.
    Bribery sucks, okay in “less developed countries” if you want to sell your products you have to grease the wheels (and palms.) But ultimately it sucks; the “less developed countries” get products which aren’t necessarily the ones best suited to their needs, and the manufacturers rely on corruption rather than quality to make sales. 🙁

    • screwtape2713 .

      The “less developed countries” are going to wind up with whatever product tickles the fancy of the big boss anyway without any regard to which one is “best suited to their needs”, because the countries themselves more often than not don’t bother to set up any kind of open competition and bidding process.

      In some ways, bribery can actually just ‘level the playing field’ too: if everybody gives a bribe, then the official is free to pick the best product; and if everybody but the American companies give a bribe, then all that happens is that the Americans are cut out of the competition and the choice is between the others…

      • Secundius

        @ screwtape2713.

        Who are you trying to kid? You don’t need to bribe anyone? Go to any third world country, slip a gun smithy $30 USD. and hell hand make you a AK-47 right in front of your eyes. And in a hour or so later, you’ll have a brand new AK-47 assault rifle. And slip him with another $20/30 USD. and throw in the magazines and 500 to 1,000-round with it. A very GOOD DEAL if you ask me, and you didn’t have to bribe anyone. Now, while that have being said getting it out of the country is whole other story.

        • Fruitbat44

          @Secundis – I think the point is about getting third world governments/police forces to *buy* your company’s latest whizz-bang wonders.
          ‘course back in day if said 3rd world government was communist they got loads of AK-47 for free. Or M16s if they were anti-commy . . .

      • Fruitbat44

        Fair point.
        Although I am not really buying into the idea of American arms manufacturers being naïve boy-scouts compared to the corrupt old-worlders.
        Just as I wouldn’t really buy into the idea of European old-school gentlemen being left standing by brash new-world gangsters . . .
        🙂

      • Secundius

        @ screwtape2713.

        You talk about leveling the playing field. Example: If I go into a grocery store which sells both Cocoa-Cola and Pepsi drink products, and I being CDO say for Cocoa-Cola give you $250,000. USD. And tell you to sell only Cocoa-Cola products too your customers. How, exactly does that level the playing field.

        • dan

          I think what he Means is pepsi could come in and do the same thing and the owner could pick the best bribe

          • Secundius

            @ dan.

            Well, we already had Glock, Sig Sauer and now Smith & Wesson. Who next?

  • TexasRaider

    I dunno….S&W business practices have seemed pretty skeevy over the years, they always seem to be a few feet closer to shady than other companies, especially when it comes to huge Military/LEO contracts. I’m sure all companies do some ‘skimming around the edges’, but Smith & Wesson seems to think that since they are, well, Smith & Wesson, they can stomp around with their big clown shoes and get away with it. Personally, I think their business ethics match their product quality perfectly….iffy.

    • Secundius

      @ TexasRaider.

      I think their pretty “skeevy”, if you asked me. Just look at the Owner/Operator of Red Jackets of New Orleans.