SAPPER in Kempen – the watchdogs in the fight against global terrorism

What do the pleasant company headquarters of SAPPER, built in the Bauhaus style in 1931 in a historic place along the defensive wall of Kempen by architect Hans Toboll , have to do with Lockerbie, 9/11 and the sanctions by the UN Security Council to protect human rights? A great deal, as it happens. For it is here that the software programs are developed with which customers from all sectors can establish in a fraction of a second whether their domestic and foreign business partners are on one of the global sanctions lists. The software from SAPPER is installed as a watchdog in the computer centers of its international customers all round the world. It is also fully integrated in SAP systems or using modern Cloud technology. All companies, regardless of whether they make jelly beans or tanks, whether they trade or provides services, must comply with the numerous statutory compliance regulations in their business dealings. This applies to small and medium-sized businesses and global corporations in equal measure.

SAPPER is one of the leading companies in Germany in this field. The programs don’t just take into account EU regulations and US sanctions, they also include all the sanctions lists available worldwide. There are already over 100 of these lists, and new ones are permanently being added. Companies that check their business dealings this way are not in danger of being sent to prison, having to pay expensive fines, having their reputation damaged or even landing on the black list themselves. To be on the safe side, German companies also have to comply with the American lists – and not just when they have branches in the USA. Carriers, logisticians and dealers that provide services for a whole panoply of constantly changing customers are particularly at risk.

All the sanctions lists are modified by the authorities about 500 times a year – and this figures is on the rise. SAPPER guarantees to its customers that it is fully up to date at all times. However, the lists no longer contain total embargos against certain states like they used to, but against individuals and corporate structures that are involved in terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, the drugs business or human rights violations. The aim is to dry out financially these “people to whom restrictive measures apply”, as they are called in EU jargon, in a targeted and long-term manner by freezing their assets and by preventative deterrent. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the US finance ministry, for example, published a new sanctions list with Russian officials suspected of being involved in the death of the auditor Sergei Magnitsky in April 2013. Magnitsky had worked in Russia for a US law firm and, by his own account, uncovered a corruption scandal involving state bodies. He was arrested and accused of tax offences. He died in a Moscow prison in unexplained circumstances.

The founder of SAPPER is Hans Anton Sapper from Vienna, who set up his own business in 1971 as an entrepreneur in market research for retail, still a new field at the time, with the SAPPER INSTITUT in Düsseldorf. He conducted research for retailers into what customers experience when they enter a store. From analysis he moved quite naturally into the area of training sales personnel. His company moved from Düsseldorf to Wachtendonk, to a former monastery hospital, where seminar rooms were created on more than 1,100 square meters. In the 1990’s SAPPER was among the pioneers that combined computer programs with video recorders. The interactive learning programs were a great success. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, companies were spending less and less on this sort of training. Yet SAPPER was already one step ahead. The company, based in Kempen since 1994, moved over to software programs for data comparison. This field had already begun in the 90’s, but it only became really important after the 9/11 attacks. With the technology skills it had already acquired, the company got off to a quick start. Having said that, the anti-terror lists are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the so-called checking of sanctions lists is concerned; one should also bear in mind the numerous embargos for weapons trafficking , money transfers, oil transport and the attempts to control drug trafficking. SAPPER E.C.S. (Export Control Solutions) develops workflow solutions for controlling exports in order to get on top of the increasing deluge of export restrictions for electronics, armament and dual use goods, luxury goods, diamonds, ivory, tropical wood etc. The core business for software and consulting for global trade compliance is without question a growth market. And today, SAPPER from Kempen is a market leader for compliance software in transport logistics. 

Since there is always a lot of money in global trading, the watchdog programs not only have to be fast and thorough, they have to be up to date at all times. SAPPER provides its clients with software for screening their business partners which automatically updates all the lists available. SAPPER is a leader in this market niche thanks to a combination of speed, accuracy and minimal false alarms. Even much larger and more well-known software companies can’t achieve the same performance indicators. Today about 75 million addresses per day are checked for compliance by SAPPER customers. And SAPPER delivers innovative new solutions in other fields too. Since, for example, 60 percent of air freight is transported by passenger flights, the security of freight is becoming an increasingly central issue. In Germany a new regulation has been in place since 29 April 2013 according to which secure air freight may only be transported without lengthy inspections by companies that have the security certificate “bekannten Versenders” (known shipper) awarded by the German federal aviation authority (LBA). Overseas containers have also been a security issue in maritime transport for some time now. A smooth and secure supply chain is no longer conceivable without certifying one’s own company as a “AEO – Authorized Economic Operator” and the accompanying solutions, such as those developed by SAPPER.

Hans Anton Sapper grew his company as a “hidden champion” in the Niederrhein. The growth sustained the company as a family business without outside capital. His daughter Katharina already works in the company as an IT systems management assistant. Two years ago the company proprietor, now 68 years old, brought in the engineer Dr. Richard K. Arning. As a shareholder and member of the Board, he coordinates international business development in the area of software solutions for export compliance, risk management and freight security. Arning previously worked at EADS in the “Defense and Security” division. Yet despite the company’s major success, there are no huge cars parked outside the company headquarters. Most of the employees live nearby – and cycle to work. And if a customer somewhere in the world has to be visited, Düsseldorf airport is just 27 minutes away.


SAPPER Aktiengesellschaft
Möhlenring 48
47906 Kempen

Tel.: 02152 - 95909-0
Fax: 02152 - 95909-199




As at: July 2013