Two Tales of Glock Ownership
Apparent discrepancies in how Gaston Glock has described ownership of his gun company and its affiliates suggest that the Austrian industrialist may have made misleading statements under oath in U.S. legal proceedings.
The seeming inconsistencies appeared when BusinessWeek compared documents submitted on behalf of Gaston Glock to a court in Luxembourg with statements he made during depositions in product liability suits against his company in the U.S.
Since the early 1990s, Glock Inc., the U.S. unit of the Glock corporate empire, has faced dozens of lawsuits alleging safety problems with its guns. Seeking to learn who controlled the company's assets, plaintiffs' attorneys have questioned Gaston Glock about the ownership structure. Specifically, some lawyers have asked about a Luxembourg shell company called Unipatent Holding that has been affiliated with the Glock operation.
Transcripts reviewed by BusinessWeek of eight depositions given by Gaston Glock between 1993 and 1999 show that he testified repeatedly that he did not own—or did not know who owned—Unipatent. For example, in a Mar. 18, 1998, deposition in a case called Shultz v. Glock in state court in New Jersey, Gaston Glock was asked by attorney George M. Vinci: "Do you know who owns Glock Inc.?"
"Glock Inc. is owned by Glock Austria and Unipatent," he responded.
"Do you know who the principals of Unipatent are, who owns the company?" Vinci asked.
"I don't know," Gaston Glock said.
"Do you have any ownership interest in that entity?"
But documents submitted to the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg in 2000 by attorneys for Gaston Glock appear to tell a different story. The filings were made in the trial of the industrialist's former business partner, Charles Ewert, who was convicted in 2003 of hiring a hit man to kill Glock. The documents state that Unipatent received a 50% stake in Glock Inc. to shield company assets. "For example, in the event of a products liability lawsuit, the assets of subsidiaries might have been lost," one Glock corporate document, dated Apr. 3, 2000, said.
Shown transcripts of Gaston Glock's testimony in the U.S., the chief prosecutor in the Ewert trial in Luxembourg, Jean-Paul Frising, said he was perplexed. Frising's investigation found Gaston Glock owned all of Unipatent. "He's not telling the truth [in the U.S.], and he's presenting a false reality," Frising alleged in an interview.
Carlos Guevara, the general counsel of Glock's U.S. unit, provided written answers to some of the many questions posed by BusinessWeek. But he did not respond to inquiries about Gaston Glock's courtroom testimony. Guevara said that he was responding on behalf of Mr. Glock as well as the Austrian and American companies.