Dell Computers Showing Up In Syria Despite Sanctions (NASDAQ:DELL)

dellA Dubai-based distributor has sold large amounts of computer equipment from Dell to the Syrian government despite strict trade sanctions. According to documents obtained by The New York Times, the computer equipment was sold by BDL Gulf, a large distributor of computer equipment in the Middle East based in Saudi Arabia. According to internal company e-mails, cash transfer statements, sales receipts and shipping documents, BDL sold the equipment to Anas Hasoon Trading, a Damascus-based company with contracts to provide computers to the Syrian government.

Dell was made aware of possible shipments of Dell equipment to Syria by an anonymous source. Jess Blackburn, a spokesman for Dell, confirmed that BDL was an authorized reseller. Mr. Blackburn released a statement saying, “We are investigating an allegation we received recently that BDL was involved in a possible transaction involving Syria. Dell requires its resellers to follow U.S. trade requirements, just as Dell does. Resellers of Dell products and services are contractually prohibited from selling or shipping any technology to a customer in a restricted country.”

The trade sanctions were intended to ban the selling of technology to the regime. Some of the technology acquired by the Syrian government is used to censor Internet activity and track opponents of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The sale of most American-made goods to Syria has been barred by the United States for nearly a decade. United States officials charged with enforcing sanctions against Syria would not comment on the possible violation of export sanction laws.

The U.S. has repeatedly tightened sanctions against the Syrian government. According to an executive order by President Obama dated April 22, 2012, Americans are barred from helping the Iranian and Syrian governments engage in human rights abuses, including monitoring and tracking of dissidents using computer technology. Exporting technology to Syria is illegal unless the sale promotes the free flow of information between the Syrian people and the outside world.

BDL’s sales manager for the United Arab Emirates, Africa and Iran, RamaNarayan Singh said the company had hundreds of customers and did not keep track of their locations. Mr. Singh said, “We cannot know if they are from Pakistan, Egypt or Morocco; we just sell in Dubai. I’m just an employee doing my duty. I don’t know if a company is from Syria.”