Follow-up on the Navalny case
Incorrect phone number: The United States accuses a Swiss company of supporting Russian weapons programs – and the company is silent
It is the only Swiss company on the sanctions list published by the US Department of Commerce on Tuesday: Buchser ChimConnect AG is said to have supported Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs – according to US allegations. Both the company and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs do not want to comment on the issue.
The accusation is against 13 companies and a sharp Russian research laboratory: the US Department of Commerce accuses them of “transferring activities to support the Russian weapons of mass destruction program.” For this reason, the ministry has placed companies and the laboratory on the sanctions list. The background is the poisoning and imprisonment of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny with the nerve gas of Novichuk.
The accused companies and the lab are subject to export restrictions to the US and anyone who deals with them should expect the US to punish them, according to the ministry. Of the 13 companies, nine are from Russia, three from Germany and one from Switzerland.
The branch in Constance is also included in the list
This is ChimConnect AG in Buchs, and as one of three German companies, it has its subsidiary in Constance, ChimConnect GmbH. The privately owned ChimConnect AG was founded in Sevelen in the beginning of 2012 and moved to Buchs in the fall of 2016. According to their simple website, they specialize in supplying and manufacturing chemicals and laboratory equipment for all types of industries and research institutions around the world.
ChimConnect writes on its website that it deals on the one hand in chemicals for research, synthesis, analysis and production purposes, intermediate products, specialty chemicals as well as raw materials. On the other hand, its scope includes laboratory equipment and consumables for analytical measurements and tests, chromatography, life sciences (cell biology, microbiology, etc.) and biotechnology, for environmental, water and food analysis as well as optical instruments.
Confusion about manufacturing facilities
The company also has its own production facilities in Russia and Kazakhstan, where organic and inorganic compounds are produced in small quantities and solvents of various qualities are produced in large quantities.
From the corporate environment, it is said that this is not true. ChimConnect did not have its own production. Instead, this is attributed to a Russian corporate partner. ChimConnect itself is purely active in retail. This information corresponds to the registration in the commercial registry of the canton of St. Gallen. There, the purpose of ChimConnect is named: “Trade in laboratory chemicals, laboratory equipment, laboratory equipment, laboratory equipment, as well as laboratory accessories”.
Contact a Russian company on the list
This ChimConnect partner Russian company is likely the Chimmed Group. There are several indications of this. First, the beginning of the identical name. Second, CHEMID is one of the nine Russian companies on the US sanctions list. Third, ChimConnect is mentioned on the Chimmed website in relation to the supply relationship. Fourth, Chimmed also provides products like laboratory equipment, specialty chemicals, biochemical reagents, etc.
The assumption is that ChimConnect could have made it to the US sanctions list due to its alleged relationship with the Russian Chimmed. Something similar can be imagined in the case of the German company Pharmcontract GmbH, which is also on the list, as well as the Russian company Pharmcontract GC.
Wide sales network in the east
According to its own information, ChimConnect stores goods in Switzerland, Germany and across the countries of the former Soviet Union (CIS). The main sales markets are industries and laboratories within the CIS countries that are active in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, diagnostics, cosmetics, food, feed, chemicals, veterinary medicine, petrochemicals, renewable energies, microelectronics and nanotechnology.
The company claims to have more than 20 years of experience in the CIS markets and maintain a sales network in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, etc. In addition, ChimConnect operates its own warehouse and equipped trucks to store and transport dangerous goods and temperature sensitive materials.
The state’s writing of economic affairs is not concerned with
Special permits are required from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) in Switzerland to export goods that could be used to develop, manufacture or distribute weapons of mass destruction. This also applies to so-called dual-use goods that can serve both civilian and military purposes.
Leaves the Federal Authority open if Buchs has such permits. “The Seco has taken note of the US sanctions against ChimConnect AG, but it does not provide any information on individual companies’ cases,” she says simply upon request. And the:
“There was no prior exchange with the responsible American authorities in this regard,” he added.
The phone number is invalid, the board is silent
According to the commercial registry, ChimConnect AG has a single board of directors. The call to ChimConnect does not go anywhere, and the phone number on the site is invalid. According to the commercial registry, the board of directors is also the managing director of CM Fine Chemicals GmbH, which he founded in Sevelen in 1997 and has been headquartered at the same address as ChimConnect in Buchs since the end of 2019. Purpose of CM Fine Chemicals: “Trade and manufacture of chemical products And biochemical. “
The man can be reached at CM Fine Chemicals, but doesn’t want to comment. In addition to his mandate as a board member of Buchser ChimConnect AG, according to his LinkedIn profile, from March 2014 to May 2020, he was also the Managing Director of ChimConnect GmbH in Constance, also included in the sanctions list.
Prior to founding CM Fine Chemicals, the businessman worked for ten good years in district sales management from 1987 to 1997 in Sigma-Aldrich. The American Group had a plant in Buchs from 1989 after it acquired the chemical company Fluka there. In 2015, the German company Merck Group acquired Sigma-Aldrich and with it Buchs.
Nothing else is available about the company and its alleged ties to Russia’s weapons of mass destruction program. It is based on discretion both on the website and on its location in the Buchs industrial district. The names of other companies, restaurant, contractor, and building contractor are engraved on the gray concrete facade. Only at the main entrance is the blurred and blue text ChimConnect attachment to. The name appeared for the first time in Russian as well as in English and German speaking media with the annoying listing site on Tuesday.