By: Brooke Driver
Well, folks, here’s yet another case of the consequences of defying U.S. embargoes. BIS has announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Ansell Protective Products Inc. of New Jersey and Comasec of Gennevilliers, France. Specifically, Ansell was charged with two counts of engaging in prohibited conduct by exporting items to Iran without the required license and two counts of evasion, while Comasec was charged with two counts of causing, aiding or abetting and two counts of evasion. Between June 27, 2008 and September 19, 2008, Ansell entered into business with French company Comasec SAS and agreed to export 35,000 pairs of Nitrotough N115 and Blue Nitrile industrial-strength gloves with a total value of $43,500 to Comasec’s client Zhabeh Safety Co. of Tehran, Iran. To avoid the U.S. embargo, Ansell and Comasec chose to first ship the items to the UAE, where they would then be transferred to their final destination in Iran. The scheme was thwarted in March of 2009, when the violation was discovered and the items seized by CBP.
The two companies were certainly smart to settle, rather than go to court over these charges, as the investigation had uncovered a significant amount of evidence of both companies’ conscious efforts to continue with the transaction despite the U.S. sanction. The evidence ranged from invoices that explicitly stated the end user’s location in Iran to emails between Ansell and Comasec expressing their knowledge of the U.S. embargo against Iran and detailing their plan for avoiding the restrictive U.S. law. Considering the amount and gravity of the evidence, in fact, BIS’ settlement of a $190,000 fine for each company is surprisingly lenient.
Of course, the relatively low value of the items involved certainly played a role in determining the appropriate payment, but Ansell’s and Comasec’s blatant disregard for U.S. regulations seems to merit a more severe consequence. All the same, the case certainly proves the point yet again that it is never worth the cost to engage in business with an embargoed country and that BIS is cracking down on those that do.