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WASHINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Global logistics company DHL [DHL.UL] has agreed to pay a $9.4 million fine to resolve allegations it aided and abetted illegal shipments of goods to Iran, Sudan and Syria, the U.S. government said on Thursday.
DHL is the only major shipper that services the three countries, which are subject to U.S. sanctions.
“We do that because we are the leader in express shipping and we go everywhere that the law allows,” said Jonathan Baker, a spokesman for DHL Express USA. “U.S. law permits DHL Express to transport documents and informational material to these countries and we intend to continue doing so.”
DHL faced charges from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) that it transported items subject to U.S. restrictions to Syria on eight occasions between June 2004 and September 2004.
It also failed to retain required air waybills and other export control documents with regard to 90 exports between May 2004 and November 2004, BIS said.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) charged DHL violated various regulations between 2002 and 2006 related to thousands of shipments to Iran and Sudan.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued a statement praising BIS and OFAC’s work in the case.
“This is a good example of government agencies working together to maintain a strong export control system and it highlights the importance of industry compliance with export controls that protect U.S. national and economic security interests,” Locke said.
But Baker said neither OFAC or BIS suggested that DHL had “knowingly or intentionally violated export control regulations.
“They also acknowledged that the vast majority of the shipments that were reviewed did in fact contain documents and informational material.”
In some cases though, the company’s records showed that personal items or consumer goods subject to U.S. sanctions were shipped to the countries.
In other instances, the company had no records showing what was in certain shipments. But even in those case, the government has not alleged that DHL transported shipments of strategic sensitivity to the three countries, Baker said.
DHL has taken steps to enhance the screening of shipments to embargoed countries, including paying for on-site U.S. Customs inspections and conducting its own secondary inspection, he added.
DHL will be required to hire an expert to conduct external audits covering exports to Iran, Syria and Sudan from March 2007 through December 2011 in addition to paying the fine. (Reporting by Doug Palmer and Julie Vormam; editing by David Gregorio and Andre Grenon)