Germany's Heckler & Koch fined for illegal arms sales to Mexico

As punishment for violating German defense export control laws, the company will pay a fine of millions of euros and two of its employees will go to jail

Photo: Heckler & Koch

The German news website reported that Germany's Federal Court of Justice (BGH) upheld a 2019 lower court decision Tuesday, finding that employees at German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch (H&K) knowingly falsified information as to the nature and destination of arms sold by the company in order to attain federal export licenses.

In 2019, the District Court of Stuttgart ruled that two H&K employees had broken federal law by failing to declare the true destination of arms sold by the company in so-called end-use statements. Though the court found three individuals innocent in the case, it gave 17 and 22-month suspended sentences to two defendants, as well as issuing a €3.7 million ($4.34 million) fine to H&K. Tuesday's ruling upheld the lower court guilty verdicts against the two individuals as well as the fine against the company, according to the report.

The website said that German export licenses allowed H&K to sell large amounts of arms — mainly more than 4,200 model G36 machine guns — and component parts to Mexico's central purchasing body, which then proceeded to sell the guns to police departments located in states with dubious human rights records.

Presiding judge Jürgen Schäfer said that although Heckler & Koch's management board may not have been involved in the crimes it must nevertheless take responsibility for the actions of its employees, the report said.

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