Amazon has disclosed that it is being investigated by federal authorities for a possible violation of sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States. This is after the online retail giant sold goods to, at the minimum, one individual as well as entities that are listed in the terrorism list kept by the government. Amazon disclosed the development in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
According to the Seattle, Washington-based online retailer, products worth approximately $34,000 were sold between early 2012 and mid this year. The products were sold and delivered to the Iranian embassy besides other individuals who were linked to the government of Iran. Some of the products included jewelry, musical instruments, consumer electronics, software and books.
Additionally Amazon also sold products worth around $300 to an individual who was on the terrorism watch list of the U.S. government. In the filing Amazon said that it couldn’t comprehensively determine the net profit the company booked from the sanctions-violating sales.
“We are unable accurately to calculate the net profit attributable to these transactions. We do not plan to continue selling to these accounts in the future,” wrote Amazon in the SEC filing.
The online retail giant also admitted that it reported the transactions that violated the sanctions voluntarily to both the departments of commerce and treasury, which are now leading the investigation. After the review is completed, penalties might be imposed.
Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act
The sanctions which Amazon is thought to have violated are contained in the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act which was signed in 2012 by President Barack Obama. This was part of the efforts at the time meant to force Iran to abandon its program of developing nuclear weapons. The act stated that public firms which knowingly conducted business with Iran were under a requirement to disclose to the government such activities.
Amazon’s disclosure comes a few weeks after the U.S. Department of Treasury slapped Exxon Mobil with a $2 million fine for violation of sanctions that had been imposed by the U.S. government on Russian citizens. At the time the current U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was the chief executive officer of the oil major.
According to the Department of Treasury the sanctions were violated three years ago after subsidiaries of the oil giant signed legal papers with Rosneft’s chairman, Igor Sechin, one of the Russian citizens under sanctions. Rosneft is a Russia state-owned oil firm.