Brazilian company Forjas Taurus, the largest weapons manufacturer in Latin America, could see that its business would be harmed with allegations that the company has illegally been fueling the civil war in Yemen.
According to documents obtained by Reuters news agency, Brazilian Federal Prosecutors accused two high ranked executives of Taurus of selling $2 million worth of guns to an arms trafficker named Mohammed Mana’a from Yemen.
Because the Middle Eastern country is under international embargo, it is illegal anyone to sell weapons there. Mana’a managed – with the knowledge of Taurus, according to prosecutors – to take the 8,000 guns via an alternative route through Djibouti, a small neighboring country.
A second order of weapons totaling 11,000 guns was being negotiated when Brazilian Federal Police agents conducting the investigations stormed Taurus in 2015, taking computers that revealed Mana’a had been making regular payments to the company since 2013. Since then, the two accused executives Eduardo Pezzuol (exports manager) and Leonardo Sperry (exports supervisor) have left the company.
Taurus has not yet been formally accused, although prosecutors are convinced that the company was aware and collaborated with the illegal trades. The defendant’s lawyer has stated that all actions were licit, but refused to comment further due to legal implications. Taurus says that it is following the process as an “interested party” only and denies all wrongdoing.
In addition to Yemen, prosecutors found possible evidence that the company used Mana’a as a weapons distributor for other war-torn African countries including Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Since 2010, Mana’a has been on the United Nations’ list of international arms traffickers, accused of supplying weapons illegally to many conflicts and groups, including Somali pirates. Nowadays, more than half of Taurus’s production finds its way to the US market. Further developments in this case may have a negative impact on the company’s exports.