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U.S. probes Florida firearms factory with ties to Putin allies: report

A customer purchases an AK-47 style rifle in Tinley Park, Illinois, Dec. 17, 2012.
A customer purchases an AK-47 style rifle in Tinley Park, Illinois, Dec. 17, 2012. Scott Olson/Getty Images

U.S. prosecutors are investigating the business practices of a Florida gun factory run by people believed to have ties to close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg reports.

Investigators are looking to obtain records related to Kalashnikov USA’s 2015 request for tax breaks after concerns surrounding the business practices of parent company RWC (Russian Weapons Company) Group , Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the investigation.

It’s not clear what element of the company’s business practices have raised concerns among U.S. prosecutors.

READ MORE: Washington gun control rally could draw half a million protesters

Earlier this month, the Miami Herald reported that Florida Gov. Rick Scott put together a $162,000 tax incentives package to get Kalashnikov USA to set up its facility in south Florida. The deal was reportedly terminated after RWC Group failed to fulfil procedural obligations.

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The tax breaks were offered despite U.S. sanctions on Russian-made assault rifles, which were imposed by the Obama administration in 2014 during tensions with Russia over the Ukraine conflict, the Florida Bulldog reported in February.

READ MORE: Russia unveils monument to designer of iconic AK-47 rifle

Kalashnikov USA holds a license to manufacture guns modelled on the iconic AK-47 rifle, whose name comes from the Russian “Avtomat Kalashnikova.” Last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla. was carried out by a gunman wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

On Friday, Russian government-linked news outlet Sputnik News published an interview with a Russian historian and journalist in which he dismissed the investigation as an act of trade war.

Vadim Soloviev suggested that the U.S. was more worried about competition in the firearms market than the use of assault rifles in mass shootings.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story referred to the gunman at the Parkland, Florida massing shooting in February as having used an AK-47. In fact he used an AR-15.