Amazon under federal investigation over Iran-linked sales, including to person on terrorism list

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

In its quarterly financial report filed July 28, the Seattle e-commerce giant revealed that it had sold about $300 worth of consumer goods 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 counter-terrorism 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 are linked 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 immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in its filings that it planned to “cooperate fully” with federal investigators.

The firm’s July 28 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, along with about $8,100 in goods to people who may have bought them on behalf of five Iranian embassies. Another $600 in products were sold to people that may have bought them for three entities owned or controlled by the Iranian government.

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

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.

“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).”



Photo: An Amazon worker gets ready to scan items before stowing them in a portable storage unit to be carried away by an Amazon Robotics robot at the Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy in April 2016. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)


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  • David in Texas

    Amazon can’t calculate profit? Partially true. Sure they can calculate sales price – cost of what they bought it for. But factoring in things like amortizing the cost of the forklift that was used for 17 seconds or the drivers manager’s manager, and did any employees get company-paid lunch that day …

    We all know there is overhead cost, but they are insignificant. Nevertheless Bezos is hiding behind that and the reporters didn’t do their job and simply ask what did you pay for all the stuff. Amazon publishes overhead as a percentage of net profit in their 10Qs. That estimate is good enough.

  • DRJJ

    Our far left doesn’t trust corp America and our far right doesn’t trust government. When corporations are unethical and immoral, capitalism looses (shame on you). When government tolerates waste, fraud and abuse, we all loose.
    Also, don’t tip toe around Muslim terrorism to be politically correct, we don’t want another 911!


  • negutron

    I wish this were more of a somethingburger than selling some consumer goods to an iranian improperly. I mean let’s talk about the CIA being on the EC2 cloud and the threat that poses in terms of backchannel collusion and potential IP theft

  • SHennesey

    Gasp, can it possibly be true? A Democrat colluding with the enemy? This has to be fake news, everybody knows that Democrats are Patriots???? Oh, and I have a bridge to sell you, the Golden Gate Bridge is for sale for $5.00 – any takers?