Retail Giant Amazon Faces Investigation for Possible Sanction Violations

According to a recent quarterly report from Amazon, it is under federal investigation after the web-based retailer admitted to selling products to at least one Iranian on the U.S. government’s blacklist of people allegedly associated with terrorism. This is a violation of the sanctions in place against Iran.

According to the report to its investors, Amazon indicated that it sold approximately $300 worth of goods to this individual that was blacklisted under Executive Order 13224, which was signed by President George W. Bush in 2001. The aim of this order was to disrupt these blacklisted organizations financially, by limiting their financial support structure.

The products that were sold during the quarter included books, other media, apparel, home and kitchen, jewelry, office, toys, health and beauty, consumer electronics, lawn and patio, automotive and musical instruments. The individual in question was not identified by Amazon.

In addition to the $300, the company sold thousands of dollars in products to people with Iranian government associations. These sales may have violated the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act. One of the sales included $24,700 “for an Iranian embassy located in a country other than Iran” and $8,100 in items to individuals “who may have been acting for five Iranian embassies located in countries other than Iran.”

The sales appear to have occurred over a period of time between 2012 through 2017.

“Our review is ongoing and we have voluntarily reported these orders to the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security,” according to Amazon. “We intend to cooperate fully with OFAC and BIS with respect to their review, which may result in the imposition of penalties.”

There are other sales that may have been violations as well. These include sales noted in their February and April filings. Those sales include $6,000 worth of products sold to six Iranian embassies and $2,400 worth of products sold to a group owned or controlled by the Iranian government between 2012 and 2016.

“We do not plan to continue selling to these accounts in the future,” said Amazon in its filings. “Our review is ongoing and we are enhancing our processes designed to identify transactions associated with individuals and entities covered by the (Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act).”

The departments could impose penalties against Amazon, but the company has indicated that it will cooperate. However, the company did not release the profit numbers from these sales.


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  1. Amazon Investigation for OFAC Violation — Sanctions Sound-Off: A National Security & Trade Compliance Blog — August 2, 2017

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