Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) denied export privileges for two individuals and three companies. The actions center around a conspiracy to illegally export web-monitoring and controlling equipment and software to Syria. In particular, this conspiracy involved the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE).
“The settlement announced today results from the aggressive law enforcement effort to prevent the Syrian government from acquiring technology that can repress the Syrian people,” said Under Secretary of Commerce Eric L. Hirschhorn. “The investigation and subsequent prosecution illustrate the serious consequences companies face when they attempt to evade U.S. export controls.”
The denial orders are against two individuals – Aiman Ammar and Rashid Albuni, both from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition, three companies also received denials – Engineering Construction and Contracting (ECC) and Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS), both from Syria, as well as iT-Wave FZCO, located in Dubai, UAE.
BIS charges that Ammar and Albuni were involved in a scheme to illegally obtain U.S.-origin equipment and software for use in Syria, by providing false destination and end-user information. According to its press release, BIS states that Albuni was involved in negotiating sales, submitting purchase orders and serving as the end-user contact for shipments. Meanwhile, Ammar directed payments for the U.S.-origin goods from his personal and business bank accounts. The two men falsely stated that the items were intended for use in locations such as Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and the UAE, when – in fact – they were destined for use in Syria.
In addition to the denial orders, BIS also imposed a $7 million penalty, with all but $250,000 suspended.
Cases like these underscore the importance of restricted parties screening and end-use / end-user checks, as part of any robust export compliance program. If you need help improving your company’s export compliance, contact us today for a free consultation.
Tom Reynolds is the Vice President of Operations for Export Solutions, a consultancy firm which specializes in helping companies with import/export compliance.