A court in Kiel, Germany has come to a preliminary agreement with the legal counsel for three SIG Sauer executives which, in return for a guilty plea, will see the Sig Sauer employees avoid prison sentences.
The three executives had been accused of the sale of 38,000 SP2022 pistols to Colombia between 2009 and 2011. The pistols were manufactured in Germany before being transferred to the US Department of Defense where they were in turn exported to Colombia. While the pistols were sold to Colombia via the US DOD via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, SIG Sauer’s defence lawyers noted that unlike the case involving Heckler & Koch’s rifle sales to Mexico, which contravened Germany’s ‘War Weapons Control Act’, the sale of firearms to Colombia at the time was not prohibited. This was explained in an exclusive statement to TFB from SIG Sauer back in November 2018. The court in Kiel argued that an issue arose from the export permit from Germany which stated the US, and not Colombia, as the final destination for the pistols.
The SIG Sauer representatives, including Michael Lüke (SIG Sauer’s co-owner) and Ron Cohen (CEO SIG Sauer, Inc), were facing prison terms of up to five years. The “Verständigung” or bargain being negotiated that in return for a guilty plea the defendants would receive suspended sentences and monetary fines. A series of court hearings will be held in the coming weeks and it is TFB’s understanding that the possible settlement will be agreed upon following future court sessions to confirm facts are concluded.
According to German media outlets, Lüke will be convicted and given an 11 month suspended custodial sentence while Cohen will be given a 1 year and 10 months suspended sentence. Both men have to pay a fine of up to 900,000 Euros or $1,025,000 USD.
A statement from Mr. Lüke’s legal representatives said they came to a compromise with the court to avoid the possibly of “fighting for years for an acquittal. Also, in order to spare all those involved a lengthy and burdensome trial, Mr. Lüke has therefore decided to take responsibility in court for violations of export duties.” Mr. Lüke’s representatives stressed that:
“Mr. Lüke has not given instructions to employees to violate export regulations. Mr Lüke has in no way intervened in export transactions. Sig Sauer had an established and functioning compliance system. With regard to Colombia, Mr. Lüke did not ring any alarm bells because it was a government mandate within the national interests of the NATO alliance partner USA. In the end, Mr Lüke admitted that he did not sufficiently take care of the export transactions in the day-to-day business.”
Following a sensationalized story in several German media outlets, Sig Sauer, Inc. has released the following statement concerning firearms sent to the Colombian National Police:
More than 10 years ago Sig Sauer, Inc. (Newington, NH) signed a contract with the United States Department of Defense for handguns that the DoD would later export to the Colombian National Police under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and in compliance with U.S. law. The purpose for these handguns was to help the Colombian Government fight the global war on drugs.
Currently, a German court in the northern town of Kiel is examining whether the sale of handguns allegedly manufactured by Sig Sauer GmbH (Germany), then sold to Sig Sauer, Inc., then sold and shipped to the United States Department of Defense and exported to the Colombian National Police pursuant to the U.S. Government’s FMS program potentially violated German export policy.
Sig Sauer’s CEO was temporarily detained and released as part of this export policy inquiry.