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Shares in Germany's Brenntag drop on dual-use chemicals sale to Syria

Shares in Germany's Brenntag drop on dual-use chemicals sale to Syria

Shares in German chemicals distributor Brenntag dropped as much as 7.6% on Wednesday on a report that the company sold substances to a company in Syria that could go into chemical weapons, among other uses.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Brenntag, the world’s largest chemicals distributor, sold chemical raw materials to a Syrian pharmaceutical company. The report was made jointly with German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk and Swiss publisher Tamedia.

Brenntag, whose shares were down 4% at 1007 GMT, said a Swiss subsidiary supplied chemicals diethylamine and isopropanol in 2014, in line with relevant laws and regulations, to Syrian drugmaker MPI to produce a pain killer.

Traders cited concern about the risk of a political fallout in the United States for the German group.

The newspaper said the two substances could be used in pharmaceuticals but could also be used to make the banned nerve agent sarin.

Brenntag said MPI was producing the pain killer under license for “a well-known Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer”, without naming the company.

“Delivery of both products was made in accordance with applicable law,” Brenntag said in its statement.

The company said it did not circumvent European Union export restrictions and said the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) had confirmed compliance with export regulations.

Prosecutors in the western German city of Essen confirmed they had received a complaint concerning Brenntag from three non-governmental organizations, namely New York’s Open Society Justice Initiative, Berlin’s Syrian Archive and Switzerland’s Trial International.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutors office said no decision had been taken on whether to launch an investigation.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in March that government forces had perpetrated 32 of 37 chemical attacks it had reported during the Syrian war, including the use of chlorine and sarin. The government denies using chemical weapons.