German defense ministry investigates cronyism allegations

Reuters News
Posted: May 15, 2015 12:49 PM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's defense ministry said on Friday it was investigating possible cases of cronyism between defense staff and gunmaker Heckler & Koch.

A ministry spokesman confirmed a report in Der Spiegel which said the ministry had set up an internal task force led by an ally of Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to examine relationships with the company.

The spokesman said the defense ministry could not rule out improper relationships "between (government) employees and the company."

Multiple attempts by Reuters to reach Heckler & Koch for comment were unsuccessful.

Heckler & Koch is one of the most successful gunmakers in the world but last month the German government said its armed forces would no longer be using its G36 assault rife after allegations it did not shoot straight in hot weather or when heated up through constant firing.

Heckler & Koch has rejected those accusations and says the weapon is fully operational. Executives have said the company is considering legal action against the government for what it sees as politically motivated slander over the accuracy allegations.

(Reporting by Thorsten Severin; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)