Amazon fined US$135k for dealing with ‘sanctioned’ Zimbabwe

On the 8th of July, the US Department of Treasury issued a statement to the effect that the Office of Foreign Assets Control had reached a settlement with Amazon. Amazon agreed to pay US$134 523 “for apparent violations of multiple OFAC sanctions programs”.

What exactly did Amazon do?

Amazon unintentionally delivered goods to sanctioned people – which they shouldn’t do. This was done for sanctioned individuals in Crimea, Iran and Syria.

The e-commerce giant is also said to have delivered their service to “to individuals located in or employed by the foreign missions of countries sanctioned by OFAC.”

In addition to this, Amazon did not report these transactions in a timely manner after realising they had made the transaction;

Amazon also failed to timely report several hundred transactions conducted pursuant to a general license issued by OFAC that included a mandatory reporting requirement, thereby nullifying that authorization with respect to those transactions.

Department of Treasury statement
Amazon would’ve fined much more harshly but the OFAC & Treasury said that wasn’t necessary since Amazon reported the violations themselves and the delivery of service was a result of a mistake, more than anything.

Where’s Zimbabwe in all this???!
Zimbabwe is mentioned in the section of the statement highlighting Amazon’s violations. Amazon is said to have accepted and processed orders from persons listed on “OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”) who were blocked pursuant to … the Zimbabwe Sanctions Regulations.”

How did Amazon slip-up?
According to the statement by the Treasury Department, Amazon’s automated sanctions screening processes failed to fully analyse all transaction and customer data relevant to compliance with OFAC’s sanctions regulations.

In some instances, orders specifically referenced a sanctioned jurisdiction, a city within a sanctioned jurisdiction, or a common alternative spelling of a sanctioned jurisdiction, yet Amazon’s screening processes did not flag the transactions for review

A big deal?

All in all, this seems like a minor slip-up on Amazon’s behalf and it shouldn’t affect ordinary Zimbos (those who aren’t sanctioned) buying stuff on Amazon.-TECHZIM

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