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Delivery for the military in Russia: contradictions in a billionaire company

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Delivery for the military in Russia: contradictions in a billionaire company

Multi-billionaire Friedhelm Loh’s company supplied parts for the Russian Nudol missile system long after the start of the war. Almaz-Antey

Using hundreds of secret documents, Business Insider has uncovered how the German IT group Rittal supplied components for an automated combat system to the Russian Ministry of Defense for years – and wanted to conceal this after the start of the war in Ukraine.

The company owned by multi-billionaire Friedhelm Loh has now publicly stated that it has only sold parts of another German company in Russia. However, this representation is not correct, as existing invoices and consignment notes show.

Accordingly, after the start of the war, Rittal delivered its own products – for a military project by the Russian arms company Almaz-Antey, which has been sanctioned since 2014. While sanctions experts suspect criminal activity, Rittal has not responded to several inquiries.

Did the corporate empire of the tenth richest German violate Russia sanctions? Research by Business Insider suggests this suspicion. Secret documents from the inner workings of a Russian military service provider impressively show how billionaire Friedhelm Loh’s Rittal Group has for years supplied components for the IT technology of an AI-supported combat control system for the Russians.

The world‘s largest control cabinet manufacturer responded to Business Insider’s reporting and stated towards other mediathat the company did not deliver any of its own products after the start of the war, but only acted as a “distributor” for another German manufacturer in Russia. Rittal did not say which company it was.

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Despite Russia sanctions: Billionaire Friedhelm Loh’s empire supplied parts for Russian drone and missile programs after the start of the war

Confidential invoice files reveal contradictions in Rittal’s presentation

Confidential invoices and consignment notes that we have available show that this representation from the German electrical engineering group is untrue. Because: Many weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of 2022, the Rittal subsidiary in Russia still delivered its own products to the Russian military service provider NPO in Moscow. Among other things, it involves a ventilation device for server cabinets, which, according to the Friedhelm Loh Group’s product database, is currently manufactured by Rittal. Rittal delivered this to NPO in April 2022. In February 2022, the German company headquarters delivered corresponding components to the Moscow warehouse of Rittal LLC.

The waybill states: The delivered goods originally come from Rittal in Germany. Rittal / NPO VS

In addition to the ventilation systems, Rittal also supplied numerous screws, side panels and parts for attaching the industrial fans. These actually do not come from Rittal production, but are manufactured by the Berlin company Heitec. Both companies have been cooperating for many years. Rittal is responsible, among other things, for the distribution of numerous Heitec products abroad. Heitec did not respond to a request for comment. Whether the Berlin company was aware that Rittal had forwarded the products for a Russian military project therefore remains unanswered.

Rittal products also appear in the corresponding invoice. Rittal / NPO VS

Deliveries for the rocket project in Russia are causing Rittal to have to explain

Further documents available to Business Insider cast the entire process further into twilight. The files show that the parts supplied by Rittal were also used for the Nudol rocket program. Behind it is the largest Russian arms company Almaz-Antey. The explosiveness: Tough EU sanctions have been in effect against the company since 2014. Almaz-Antey is said to have manufactured the rocket with which the Russians shot down the passenger plane MH17 over Ukraine. All 298 inmates died.

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In plain language: Since 2014, European companies have not been allowed to do business with Almaz-Antey. Not even indirectly. Providing the products for the Almaz-Antey military project in Russia could therefore have been a violation of the sanctions. Rittal did not comment on this when asked.

Sanctions expert suspects criminal conduct

Sanctions expert Viktor Winkler explains: “The key point here from a sanctions perspective is: What did the parent company in Germany know, what did it have to know, and what did it consciously close its eyes to?” It is extremely unlikely that Rittal would break away from the subsidiary so radically in Russia has stated that the actions of the subsidiary cannot be attributed to it, the professor of business law tells us. “It is possible to build such a Chinese wall between Russian daughters and German mothers, but it is extremely rare and only involves superhuman efforts and costs,” said the lawyer. “In addition, the bans were already in effect long before 2022. Overall, this is an astonishingly dangerous business structure that will make it very, very difficult for the German company to convince the responsible public prosecutor that they knew nothing about things that the German parent company would have been and continue to be clearly prohibited.”

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