Amazon Under Investigation For Selling Goods to Iran (Maybe, Maybe Not)

Fortune has an article up this morning with the breathless news that Amazon us being investigated for breaking US laws.

Several other sites including the Washington Post have also reported that it seems the retailer has been caught shipping goods to Iranian embassies and to people or companies associated with the Iranian govt.

 Amazon is being investigated for delivering orders to an Iranian embassy, as well as to an individual who may have committed, threatened to commit or supported terrorism.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the online shopping giant processed and delivered thousands of dollars worth of orders of consumer products, including jewelry, home and kitchen appliances and musical instruments, to individuals and entities connected with Iran.

If you click through to the SEC filing you may realize there is a small degree of clickbait to the Fortune story.

The thing is, no one has reported any evidence to back up the claim that Amazon is under investigation. The retailer stated in their filing that they reported their violations, not that they are being investigated for the violations.

In 2016, we determined that we 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 or other United States sanctions and export control laws. … Our review is ongoing and we have voluntarily reported these orders to the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. We intend to cooperate fully with OFAC and BIS with respect to their review, which may result in the imposition of penalties. …

There’s a later section where they describe how much they sold and to whom. It’s juicy stuff – if you’re an accountant – but it is not evidence of an investigation.

I am still trying to confirm if there is an investigation at this time. So far Amazon has not commented, and I am still waiting responses from various federal agencies.

However, given the President’s animosity towards the Washington Post, and by extension Bezos and Amazon, it is a near certitude that Amazon will be investigated for these violations – just as soon as Fox News covers the story.

Whether that investigation will result in fines is another matter. I cannot find any sign that anyone has been fined or prosecuted for what Amazon has done (perhaps my Google-fu failed me).

Update: I have heard back from my expert source, a federal contractor who has worked in Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. My source told me not to bother them with trivialities, and this is evidence of filing paperwork, not wrongdoing. I was told that it’s a stretch to say that this is an investigation when literally all that might have happened was that someone in some agency somewhere got an email from Amazon.

image by theglobalpanorama

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. BDR3 August, 2017

    Since when does Trump need evidence to make an allegation?

    1. Nate Hoffelder3 August, 2017

      He doesn’t, but he’d need something solid if he wanted it to tick.

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