(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
For over three months, the Canadian federal police force, known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), have been examining a Canadian company that manufactured vehicles which were sent to war-torn Libya.
The shipment of the armoured vehicles directly violated a UN ban that was put in place to help reduce the military tension in the country.
Streit Group had been put under review after the Canadian Ministry of Global Affairs requested the RCMP look into the matter in May. The request came at a time when the UN panel had been conducting its own investigation into Streit Group’s violation of the UN ban.
Streit has also violated a Canadian ban by selling 30 of its armoured vehicles to Sudan, according to The Globe and Mail.
The ministry confirmed that both cases are being looked into by the RCMP. The RCMP has yet to put the Canadian military company under official investigation, but continues to review the cases to figure out if a full investigation is needed.
The UN panel refers to the sale of the armoured vehicles to Libya as an “illicit transfer”. The company in question is owned by Guerman Goutorov, who has Canadian citizenship but lives in the UAE. Though Goutorov company is Canadian based in both deals, to Libya and to Sudan, the vehicles were made in the UAE.
The Canadian government said it is not in anyway responsible for the deals since the armored vehicles were never in Canada, even though the company has ties to Canada.
Such a response from the Canadian government is found to be ironic as the government seems to take more interest in other types of foreign business transactions by its citizens.
A number of years back, Canada had declared new ethics regulations for corporations and the consequence for not following the regulations could lead to the removal of trade-promotion service.
Canada says it will interfere on cases of Canadians abroad who get caught up in charges of bribery of foreign officials and federal legislation and is willing to impose fines and imprisonment if those convicted of such charges are found guilty.
The RCMP is in the process of figuring out whether Canadians living abroad who violate embargoes are to be disciplined by the Canadian government in the same way as they would be if they lived in Canada.
“Global Affairs Canada does not publicly comment on possible breaches of sanctions regulations,” said Jessica Séguin, a spokesperson for Global Affairs. Séguin added that Ottawa “remains deeply concerned by the number and severity of human-rights abuses committed in Sudan.”
In 2004, Canada released a statement about its embargo on Sudan saying, “no person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly export, sell, supply or ship arms and related material, wherever situated, to any person in Sudan.” The only exception to the rule was for peacekeepers and humanitarians.
Enough Project, an advocacy group based in the US, has also spoken up against Streit’s sale to Sudan saying, “there is no excuse for responsible companies to provide armoured vehicles to the Government of Sudan, particularly if these vehicles are then used in Darfur and South Kordofan, where the Bashir regime continues to commit severe human-rights violations and to indiscriminately target civilians.”
Streit’s deal of armoured vehicles to Libya was shipped in 2012 when the UN military sanctions on Libya were in effect. The UN was not notified of the sale and therefore has categorized the deal to be “in violation of the arms embargo.”
The receiver of the shipment in Libya, according to the UN panel, was named on the paper work as “Libyan Ministry of the Interior.”
Canadian diplomats and officials who were based in the UAE have previously been supportive of the activities of Streit. One Canadian diplomat Claudio Ramirez, who used to be based in Abu Dhabi posted a tweet in 2015 announcing the Streit Group expanded a factory in the UAE.
In communication between Streit Group and the UN, the Canadian company said it “strenuously reject[s] any suggestion that Streit Group could knowingly or otherwise break national or international law.”
However, the US government placed penalties on Streit in 2015 for selling armoured vehicles without seeking the necessary approvals.