The camouflaged trade with Iran
Despite the embargo, 74 companies have done business with both the US government and Iran since 2000, some through Gulf intermediaries.
March 11, 2010 9:45 by Rasha Reslan
The US taxpayer has given more than $107 billion to companies that are also doing business with Iran, despite Washington’s efforts to discourage investment there, according to a recent report by The New York Times.
Federal records and company documents reveal that 74 companies have done business with both the US government and Iran since 2000. And despite current pressures, 49 of them persist to do business there with no declared plans to leave.
The list includes Royal Dutch Shell and Total, both of which are flagged by the New York Times as being possible violators of the Iran Sanctions Act. Companies that appear on the list but which have since withdrawn from Iran include Halliburton, Caterpillar and Exxon Mobil. Many of the companies eluded the law by setting up foreign subsidiaries or by working with third-party distributors.
The news comes as Washington attempts to persuade Russia, China and many European countries to back stronger measures against Iran. The U.S. passed the Iran Sanctions Act in 1996, and may act to further tighten the embargo in response to Iran’s nuclear program.
Some of the companies cited by The New York Times use, or previously used distributors based in the Gulf region to sell goods, indirectly, to Iran.
For example, Hewlett-Packard struck a partnership in 1997 with a newly-formed company in Dubai to sell its products in the Middle East. At the time, the company, called Redington Gulf, had only three employees and its sole purpose was to “sell HP supplies to the Iran market,” according to the history on Redington Gulf’s website.