The U.S. Treasury Department has fined Amazon for violating sanctions related to Russia's annexation of Crimea, and sanctions imposed on Iran and Syria.
In a statement on its website, the U.S. Treasury Department stated the company was fined $134,500 for violating various sanctions under the Decision of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Amazon is accused of the delivering goods and services to persons subject to sanctions, as well as persons who were in Crimea, Syria and Iran at that time.
The U.S. Treasury Department reported that from November 2011 to October 2018, users in Crimea, Syria and Iran placed orders or provided services and shipped goods to individuals in these regions through Amazon sites.
According to OFAC, “Amazon failed to exercise due caution or care when it implemented sanctions screening processes that failed to properly flag transactions involving blocked persons and sanctioned jurisdictions. In particular, Amazon did not properly review or assess addresses, customer names, or common variations of such data as part of its sanctions screening.”
As for Iran, “Amazon processed orders for personal security products on behalf of persons located at the Iranian embassies in Tokyo, Japan, and in Brussels, Belgium”.
Amazon pleaded guilty and agreed to pay the fine.
In December 2014, Washington introduced sanctions which allowed the U.S. Treasury Department to impose restrictions on individuals and companies operating in Russia's annexed Crimea. In addition, the export, re-export, sale or supply to the peninsula of goods, services and technologies is prohibited.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.