US Senator calls for halt on sale of arms manufacturer to Czech company

J.D. Vance, a Republican senator from Ohio, has urged the US Treasury Secretary to halt the sale of an American arms manufacturer to Czechoslovak Group. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 27.01.2024 10:00:00 (updated on 27.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

United States Senator J.D. Vance has written a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urging her to suspend the sale Sporting Products, the arms and ammunition division of U.S. company Vista Outdoor, to Czechoslovak Group (CSG). According to Vance, there are potential security risks in the sale to the Czech company, including alleged ties to Russia.

CSG, a prominent industrial-technology holding, entered into a $1.91 billion (roughly CZK 44.6 billion) sales agreement with Vista Outdoor earlier this month, marking a significant deal within the arms industry.

Senator Vance, however, has raised concerns about CSG's alleged history of collusion and alleged connections with entities hostile to the United States. In his letter, Vance stressed the need for a thorough assessment of potential risks, stating that the transaction poses clear threats to U.S. national security.

CSG, in response to the senator's claims, has vehemently denied any links to Russian authorities. Andrej Čírtek, a spokesperson for the Czech holding company, emphasized that CSG is a private entity committed to selling its products to partner countries within NATO and the EU.

Čírtek highlighted CSG's collaboration with leading defense companies, including U.S.-based Raytheon and General Dynamics European Land Systems.

Senator Vance's letter further referenced CSG's alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, raising concerns about the company's sponsorship of a show in Moscow aimed at facilitating Russian authorities' access to European military technology.

Additionally, the senator pointed to a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which implicated CSG in the violation of the arms sales embargo to Azerbaijan.

CSG has countered these allegations, asserting that their exports have always been conducted with duly granted licenses. The company spokesperson pointed to their previous acquisition of Fiochci, a U.S.-based small-caliber ammunition manufacturer, as well as high-level security clearances, as evidence of their adherence to stringent security protocols.

"Our acquisition of Fiochci, which manufactures small-caliber ammunition in the U.S., has successfully passed the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment's review," Čírtek  states. "Some of the companies owned by CSG have both Czech and NATO security clearances. None of this would be possible for a company with ties to Russia."

Prior to becoming the Republican Senator for Ohio (serving alongside Democrat Sherrod Brown), Vance authored the autobiography Hillbilly Elegy, which was turned into a 2020 film from director Ron Howard. He has reportedly been placed on a shortlist of potential running mates for Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election.

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