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World's largest chemical distributor Brenntag won't face probe over Syria sales Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

World's largest chemical distributor Brenntag won't face probe over Syria sales

Brenntag sold both chemicals to a pharmaceutical company with links to the Syrian regime [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 August, 2019

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Reports surfaced in June accusing the German firm of exporting chemicals to Syria that could have been used to manufacture deadly substances such as sarin.
German prosecutors said on Tuesday they had found no grounds to investigate Brenntag, the world's largest chemicals distributor, over the sale of substances that can be used in chemical weapons to a company in Syria.

Reports surfaced in June accusing the German firm of selling ingredients with potential dual use in painkillers and nerve gas, which could have been manufacture deadly substances such as sarin, to a Syrian drugmaker.

But the prosecutor’s office in the western city of Duisburg said there were no sufficient signs of wrongdoing that would justify an investigation into Brenntag.

Duisburg prosecutors had taken over the case from counterparts in Essen, who in June received the initial complaint about Brenntag from three non-governmental organisations New York's Open Society Justice Initiative, Berlin's Syrian Archive and Switzerland's Trial International.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, working with other media outlets, release the June report detailing how Brenntag used a Swiss firm to export chemicals isopropanol and diethylamine to Syria in 2014.

Although they can be used for medical purposes they are also ingredients in the manufacture of deadly chemical weapon sarin, which has been used by the regime on civilian areas in the war.

Brenntag sold both chemicals to a pharmaceutical company with links to the Syrian regime.

The UN found that a sarin gas attack on the opposition village of Khan Sheikhoun in 2017 - which killed around 100 civilians - used the chemical isopropanol.

Brenntag AG admitted to sending the chemicals to Syria through the Swiss company but said it was done "in accordance with the laws at the time".

The EU put restrictions on the export of chemicals that could be used to manufacture weapons to Syria after a number of deadly gas attacks on opposition areas.

Authorisation is required to export diethylamine since 2012, while a similar law was put in place for isopropanol in 2013 including through subsidiaries in Switzerland.

Some of the chemicals were delivered in 2014, when the Syrian regime formally "destroyed" its chemical weapons. 

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