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Russia probe RUAG denies weapons delivery claims

RUAG logo

The RUAG logo as seen at the media conference on Friday

(Keystone)

The Swiss technology company, RUAG, says it did not deliver any sniper rifles or helicopter technology to Russia, as it presented its annual results on Friday.

Chief executive Urs Breitmeier’s statement comes a day after Swiss federal prosecutors searched the company following a tip-off from a whistleblower about unauthorised arms exports.

“We are disappointed that a member of RUAG’s management went against the company’s code of conduct and got involved in third party business that we would never have allowed,” Breitmeier told the media in Zurich.

The Office of the Attorney General ordered the search as part of an investigation into suspected arms deals involving Russian President Vladimir Putin's bodyguards.

RUAG had reported the criminal offence and is cooperating with the probe. The attorney general added that the proceedings involved an investigation into alleged criminal mismanagement and possibly misconduct in public office.

+ More about the RUAG investigation here

Breitmeier said that RUAG had delivered munitions to Russia to the bodyguards before sanctions came into force and with the approval of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, but it has not delivered sniper rifles and helicopter technology.

All weapons exports from Switzerland require government approval. Switzerland halted arms experts to Russia in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. It is not clear when the suspected unauthorised exports took place.

“Uncomfortable” situation, lower results

Breitmeier admitted that the situation was “uncomfortable” for the company. He added that the raid had only affected the office areas.

The Handelszeitung newspaper broke the story on Thursday, saying the case allegedly involved an executive at RUAG’s ammunitions business Ammotec and a Julius Baer banker in Russia, who for years secretly arranged deals in technical equipment and weapons for Putin’s guards.

Julius Baer has told the Reuters news agency that it was investigating the allegations, adding that the employee in question would be suspended.

Friday saw RUAG also announce its annual figuresexternal link for 2017 which saw net sales of CHF1.96 billion ($2.1 billion), up from 2016’s CHF1.86 million. But the company said it was “unable to uphold last year’s record result”. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) fell to CHF119 million and net profit to CHF89 million.

SDA-ATS/Reuters/ilj

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