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IBM questioned over alleged dealings with Iran

IBM is the latest company to become embroiled in alleged illegal dealings with Iran, Bloomberg has reported (opens in new tab).

According to the newswire, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sent a letter to IBM requesting that the company provide an account of its interactions with Iran, where IBM products were supposedly resold by Chinese firm ZTE.

“Iran is designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department and is subject to U.S. economic sanctions and export controls,” the SEC wrote in the letter, which was sent in August. “Please describe to us the nature, duration, and extent of your past, current, and anticipated contacts with Iran, whether through subsidiaries, distributors, resellers, or other direct or indirect arrangements.”

Though China does not have sanctions on Iran, ZTE, as a business partner of IBM, is required to abide by US regulations, including applicable sanctions and trade laws. IBM was also asked to divulge information on any interactions with Syria, Sudan and Cuba, which are also subject to economic sanctions by the US.

In a letter sent to the SEC, IBM insisted it “complies with all U.S. economic sanctions and export laws and regulations, including those regarding countries identified as state sponsors of terrorism.”

“IBM takes its obligations regarding export compliance with great seriousness,” Doug Shelton, a spokesperson for the company, told Bloomberg. “Our agreements with our business partners specifically prohibit them from the transfer of IBM products to Iran. If any of IBM’s business partners are breaching our export compliance agreements, IBM will take appropriate actions.”

ZTE has not yet issued an official response to the matter.

This week it was revealed that a Huawei partner illegally sold US technology to Iranian telecoms firm MTN Irancell (opens in new tab).

“We did not participate in the delivery of this project because Huawei has been and continues to be in strict compliance with all relevant international and local laws and regulations," said Huawei spokesperson Vic Guyang in response to the allegations.

Earlier this month, both companies were accused of being threats to US national security (opens in new tab) by allowing their equipment to be used by the Chinese government for surveillance purposes.