BERLIN — A businessman suspected of helping Russia purchase sophisticated machinery in breach of arms export rules has been detained in Germany, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The man, identified only as Alexander S. because of privacy rules, was detained by German customs officials in the eastern city of Leipzig. Officers also searched premises in Leipzig and Berlin in connection with the case, the federal prosecutors office said.
The suspect is accused of running a trading company that had ties to a business in Russia controlled by a Russian intelligence agency.
“This company acted as an intermediary, by purchasing high-quality machine tools and having them shipped to arms companies in Russia,” German prosecutors said in a statement.
The suspect is alleged to have shipped several pieces of machinery to Russia in 2019 without obtaining the necessary export licenses, each time declaring a false recipient for the dual-use goods. He is also suspected of having signed purchase agreements for further devices to be shipped to companies involved in Russia’s missile program, though prosecutors said it was unclear whether those goods were delivered.
The suspect now faces charges of failing to obtain export permits, breaching export bans and acting on behalf of a foreign intelligence agency.
Prosecutors said the suspect isn’t the same Alexander S. who was charged last year over the delivery of €8 million (U.S. $10 million) worth of machinery to a company linked to the Russian military between January 2016 and January 2018.