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Reports: Sig Sauer CEO Takes Plea Deal in German Arms Case

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Ron Cohen, the CEO of New Hampshire gun manufacturer Sig Sauer, has reportedly struck a plea deal with German prosecutors over an illegal arms shipment.

Cohen, 57, will receive a 22 month suspended prison sentence, and fines topping $1 million, according to German media reports. He was facing up to five years in prison if found guilty.

Cohen and two other executives of the German-owned Sig Sauer were accused of conspiring to cover up the final destination of a shipment of pistols. German prosecutors say that between 2009 and 2011, the company manufactured nearly 40,000 guns in its factory in Germany, then transferred the weapons to its sister-entity in New Hampshire before shipping them on to Colombia.

That last leg of the sale violates German export law, which prohibits the manufacturing and delivery of weapons to countries considered to be in armed conflict. Prosecutors allege that Cohen and his two co-conspirators filed fraudulent “end use” certificates to export officials to hide the final destination of the guns.

In 2009, Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire-based entity inked a deal worth up to $300 million to deliver weapons to the National Police Force of Colombia. Prosecutors believe the company lacked production capacity at its facility in Exeter to complete the sale, and turned to its sister-entity in Eckernforde, Germany, for assistance.

Allegations of the transaction made headlines in 2014 after whistleblowers released documents to German media outlets that appeared to show knowledge of the Colombian sale. Prosecutors announced formal charges against Sig Sauer’s executives in 2018. In October, Cohen was arrested upon arrival at an airport in Frankfurt, and held for ten days before securing his release on bail.

The trial, which began Tuesday in the northern city of Kiel, Germany, was scheduled to run through late June. But after reading the indictments aloud, the court announced that the parties were negotiating a plea deal. That came as a surprise to anti-arms activists who criticized the move.

On Wednesday, German broadcaster NDR reported that the deal was finalized, and approved by the court.

Sig Sauer did not respond to a request for comment.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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