Economy, Sci & Tech

Amazon Fears Penalties, Says it Sold to Overseas Iranians

US companies continue to stay away from deals with Iranians.US companies continue to stay away from deals with Iranians.

Amazon, the US’s biggest online shopping portal said in a regulatory filing that from 2012 to 2016 it “processed and delivered orders of consumer products for certain individuals and entities located outside Iran covered by the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA).”

Amazon said it reported the transactions to the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The world’s biggest e-commerce retailer said it would cooperate with a review by the agencies, and added that this could result in “penalties,” according to the filing, according to a Reuters report.

In 2012, former president Barack Obama signed the ITRA to strengthen trade restrictions on Iran and tried to persuade the country to stop its nuclear activities. This law imposes civil penalties and takes other action against foreign subsidiaries of US companies engaging in transactions with Iran. In January 2016, the US lifted some of the economic sanctions tied to the nuclear program.

Amazon said Friday it sold a variety of consumer products to individuals and unspecified groups controlled or owned by the Iranian government. The goods ranged from apparel to software to pet foods and cost $50 to about $2,400, according to the filing. Amazon said it does not plan to sell to these accounts in the future.

“Our review is ongoing, and we are enhancing our processes designed to identify transactions associated with individuals and entities covered by the ITRA,” Amazon said.

Amazon’s revealing statement comes as several other US companies have feared to do any business related to Iran. 

In one incident, a restaurant in San Francisco had their internet payment facility disconnected because it was selling Iranian food like ‘ Ghormeh Sabzi.’ Internet payment giant Paypal later rescinded the ban on the restaurant. 

Another incident of Iranophobic companies was in the case of Apple in 2012. Sabah Sabet, a then 19-year old US citizen of Iranian extraction, and a student of the University of Georgia, took her uncle to buy an iPhone and an iPad at an Apple store in a mall in Alpharetta, Georgia.

However, she was in for a shocker, as the store clerk refused to sell them the devices after he found out Sabet and her uncle were speaking Farsi.

“When we said ‘Farsi, I am from Iran,’ he said, ‘I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations,’” Sabet recounted. 

Sabet said the incident, which she describes as “discrimination” and “racial profiling,” was very hurtful and just as embarrassing. 

The cases of American companies fearing any connection to Iran continues despite the relaxation of trade between Iran and the outside world. 


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