U. S. Department of Commerce
Bureau of Export Administration

July 8, 1996
BXA - 96 - 13

Susan Hofer
Eugene Cottilli
(202) 482-2721

Sigma Chemical Penalized $480,000
for Biotoxin Exports

(WASHINGTON) The Commerce Department's Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) today imposed a civil penalty of $480,000 on Sigma Chemical Company, based in St. Louis, Mo., for allegedly violating export controls on biological agents by shipping U.S.-origin biotoxins to various countries without the required export licenses. Sigma Chemical agreed to pay a $480,000 civil penalty to settle these allegations. Today's action marks the first settlement with a firm allegedly exporting biological agents illegally.

"The U.S. is leading international efforts to forestall the spread of biological weapons. Strong enforcement of export controls on biological agents is an integral part of the Clinton Administration's non-proliferation strategy," Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement John Despres announced.

Over 30 countries joined together to create the list of dual-use biological agents, and to require licenses for their export, of which biotoxins are among the most dangerous. Biotoxins can be used in the manufacture of biological weapons, as well as in the research, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

The investigation which led to this settlement began in 1992. It was prompted by a study by the General Accounting Office (GAO) of U.S. and international efforts to ban biological weapons, requested by then Senator Al Gore. After the investigation by BXA's Chicago Export Enforcement Field Office, the Department alleged that, on 48 separate occasions between July 1992 and January 1993, Sigma exported U.S.-origin biotoxins from the United States to various countries without the required validated export licenses.

"Sigma's export compliance system failed to properly interpret and implement the licensing requirements of the Export Administration Regulations," stated Mr. Despres.

BXA administers and enforces the Export Administration Act through its Export Administration Regulations, regulating exports and reexports of dual-use commodities, technology and software for reasons of national security, foreign policy, and short supply.