Amazon under federal investigation over Iran-linked sales

August 1, 2017 by Ethan Baron, The Mercury News

Under federal investigation for possibly violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, Amazon.com has admitted to selling consumer goods to at least one person on the government's list of people and entities associated with terrorism.

In its quarterly financial report filed this past week, Amazon revealed that it sold about $300 worth of to someone designated under Executive Order 13224, which covers people and entities believed to be terrorists or supporters of terrorism. A February regulatory filing from Amazon noted another sale or group of sales to a person covered under that counterterrorism order, amounting to $1,300. It was unclear whether that customer was the same as the person mentioned in the latest filing, or whether the person or people named in the executive order have links to Iran.

Amazon's July 28 filing outlines other, higher-value sales that may have violated the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act or other U.S. sanctions and export-control laws. The company said the commerce and treasury departments are investigating the Iran-linked sales and those to the person or people named in the executive order, and may impose penalties against the firm.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

The company's disclosure said that between January 2012 and June 2017, Amazon sold "consumer products" valued at about $24,700 to an Iranian embassy in an undisclosed country, and about $8,100 in goods to people who may have bought them on behalf of five Iranian embassies. Other products were sold for about $600 to people who may have bought them for three entities owned or controlled by the Iranian government.

In the February filing, and another in April, Amazon revealed additional sales possibly violating sanctions against Iran, including about $6,000 in goods sold to six Iranian embassies and about $2,400 in products sold between 2012 and 2016 to an entity owned or controlled by Iran.

According to Amazon, the goods referred to in the filings included "books, other media, apparel, home and kitchen, jewelry, office, toys, health and beauty, consumer electronics, lawn and patio, automotive, and musical instruments."

The company said it was unable to accurately calculate the profit it made from the transactions.

However, Amazon suggested it was finished with the problematic Iran-linked customers. "We do not plan to continue selling to these accounts in the future," the company said in its filings.

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