Brazil’s premier small arms manufacturer is in hot water: Two former executives of Forjas Taurus SA have been served with charges of arms trafficking by the Brazilian government. The executives, Eduardo Pezzuol and Leonardo Sperry, allegedly negotiated deals to ship 8,000 handguns to Fares Mohammed Hassan Mana’a, a Yemeni arms trafficker active in Africa. Reuters reports:
Brazil’s Forjas Taurus SA, the largest weapons manufacturer in Latin America, sold guns to a known Yemeni arms trafficker who funneled them into his nation’s civil war in violation of international sanctions, according to charges in court documents reviewed by Reuters.
Federal prosecutors in southern Brazil charged two former executives of Forjas Taurus (FJTA4.SA) in May with shipping 8,000 handguns in 2013 to Fares Mohammed Hassan Mana’a, an arms smuggler active around the Horn of Africa for over a decade according to the United Nations.
The handguns were allegedly shipped by Taurus to Djibouti and redirected to Yemen by Mana’a, according to court documents.
Alexandre Wunderlich, a lawyer for the two former Taurus export executives, Eduardo Pezzuol and Leonardo Sperry, said the accusations in the sealed indictment “do not reflect the facts of the matter.”
Yemen has been consumed since early last year by a brutal civil war killing thousands of people as Iran-backed Houthi rebels challenge a Saudi-allied government.
Mana’a, who served from 2011 to 2014 as governor of Sa’dah, a Houthi stronghold, could not be reached for comment.
A Brazilian court issued a public summons for Mana’a in May as part of a case citing him, Sperry and Pezzuol as defendants.
Taurus declined to answer detailed questions on the weapons case due to legal confidentiality but said it was “helping the courts to clarify the facts.”
Following the Reuters report, the company confirmed in a securities filing on Monday that two of its former executives had been charged for an alleged 2013 arms shipment destined for Yemen.
After learning about suspicions surrounding the Yemeni arms dealer, Taurus said it halted another shipment he negotiated.
The two executives left Taurus in the latter part of 2015, after the Brazilian government discovered negotiations to ship a further 11,000 guns to Mana’a, and raided the company’s headquarters. The government reports that emails they found their confirm that Eduardo Pezzuol and Leonardo Sperry knew of UN sanctions against dealing with Mana’a, but worked to find ways around them.
Taurus is a manufacture that has been beset by recalls and controversy over the past few years, yet it remains one of the biggest manufacturers not only in Brazil, but in the United States and the world as well. In 2013, the São Paulo State Military Police recalled nearly 100,000 24/7 DS pistols because of an issue with accidental firing, which bled over into a class action lawsuit on multiple models which was settled for $39 million. Following that, the innovative Curve handgun was recalled on release because the barrels were not marked with the caliber as per US regulations.
Thanks to Daniel for the tip!