The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Wednesday it fined Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. $4.2 million after a subsidiary based in Turkey knowingly violated OFAC’s sanctions against Iran.
The Berkshire subsidiary — Iscar Kesici Takim Ticareti ve Imalati Limited Sirket (Iscar Turkey) — exported 144 shipments of cutting tools worth about $383,000 to two third-party Turkish distributors. Iscar Turkey knew “that such goods would be shipped to a distributor in Iran for resale to Iranian end-users, including several entities later identified as meeting the definition of the Government of Iran,” OFAC said.
The “apparent violations constitute an egregious case,” according to OFAC.
The sales violated the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations or ITSR, OFAC said. Under those sanctions, U.S. entities and individuals can be penalized for transactions “engaged in by entities that they own or control and are established or maintained outside of the United States if such transactions would have been prohibited if engaged in by a U.S. person or in the United States.”
OFAC said the “conduct forming the basis for OFAC’s egregiousness determination, however, is attributable to Iscar Turkey and other Berkshire subsidiaries but not Berkshire itself.”
Iscar Turkey believed in 2013 that international sanctions against Iran would soon end. The company set up distribution channels in advance to position itself. It used Turkish distributors as intermediaries to deal with distributors in Iran.
The Turkish distributors “also entered into arrangements with other Turkish companies to issue false invoices, falsely giving the impression that goods were going to other Turkish companies rather than Iran,” OFAC said. The sales continued until 2016.
OFAC said Berkshire voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations on behalf of Iscar Turkey, cooperated in the investigation, and took remedial action.