WASHINGTON, DC: The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has fined the Dubai-based arm of Aramex US$125,000 for the unlicensed export and re-export to Syria of internet monitoring devices and software.
Between December 2010 and February 2011, the company is alleged to have received two shipments from another - unnamed - UAE freight agent and agreed to forward them to Syria despite its employees being specifically advised of sanctions against the country and instructed not to move U.S. products to Syria. As a result of cooperating with the BIS investigation, Aramex received a reduced penalty.
"Today's settlement shows the importance of compliance with U.S. law by foreign freight forwarders handling items subject to U.S. export controls," said under secretary of Commerce Eric Hirschhorn. "The items in question could [have been] used by the Syrian government to monitor Internet activity and block pro-democracy websites as part of its brutal crackdown against the Syrian people."
According to BIS, the Aramex fine relates to a US$2.8 million penalty imposed last year on Dubai-based Computerlinks FZCO for similar activity. BIS said Computerlinks knew the order it placed with Blue Coat Systems was destined for end users in Syria but claimed it was for Iraq's Ministry of Telecom and the Afghan Internet service provider, Liwalnet.
BIS controls the export and re-export of U.S. commodities, technology and software relating to national security, missile technology, nuclear non-proliferation, chemical and biological weapons non-proliferation, crime control, regional stability, foreign policy and anti-terrorism.
Last year it fined Weatherford International's Houston, Texas office a record US$100 million for export control and nuclear non-proliferation violations between 2002 and 2007 to Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico.
Headquartered in Switzerland and providing oilfield service and equipment to 100 countries, the company's code of conduct is available via its web site in 16 languages.