SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil is reviewing its procedures for controlling arms exports, Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said on Thursday, when asked about an investigation into a sale of guns by Forjas Taurus SA that allegedly violated U.N. sanctions.
“We are updating the regulations in this area, seeking objectivity and transparency. They need updating,” the minister said. Jungmann said the review was part of a “periodic” update of arms export regulations.
Taurus, the largest weapons manufacturer in Latin America, confirmed a Reuters report this month of charges against two former executives who prosecutors allege sold weapons in 2013 to a Yemeni arms trafficker who was on a U.N. sanctions list.
Prosecutors said Fares Mohammed Hassan Mana‘a, who was placed under U.N. sanctions in 2010 for violating an arms embargo in Somalia, then redirected the weapons into his country’s civil war.
In an emailed statement on Thursday, Taurus - which does not face any charges in the case - said the review on arms imports and exports was part of an ongoing discussion on changes to legislation on the purchase of Brazilian firearms that had been taking place for months.
Brazilian prosecutors charged the two former Taurus executives in May with shipping 8,000 handguns to Mana‘a. The U.N. sanctions banned any weapons sales or financing for the trafficker, and ordered an asset freeze and travel ban on him.
U.S. President Barack Obama also named Mana‘a and 10 others in a 2010 executive order banning business with individuals and groups accused of contributing to unrest in Somalia.
Taurus said in the statement that the arms were destined for the government of Djibouti and had all the necessary licenses, and Mana‘a had acted as an intermediary. It said that it halted another shipment negotiated with Mana‘a after learning about suspicions surrounding the Yemeni arms dealer.
A lawyer for the two former Taurus export executives charged by prosecutors has said the accusations “do not reflect the facts of the matter.”
Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Leslie Adler and Michael Perry