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6 Apr 2023

Dylan Tokar, The Wall Street Journal

Russia: Microsoft to pay $3 million over alleged sanctions violations between 2012 & 2019

Microsoft to pay $3 million over Russia sanctions, export controls violations, 6 April 2023

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to pay more than $3 million in fines for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Russia and other countries after its software and services ended up in the hands of blacklisted companies and persons in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments on Thursday said they had reached a joint settlement with Microsoft over the apparent violations of U.S. sanctions and export controls rules, which the software giant voluntarily disclosed.

The sanctions violations, which occurred between July 2012 to April 2019, predate the larger Russian incursion into Ukraine that President Vladimir Putin launched in 2022. The U.S. and its allies have since significantly ratcheted up economic restrictions in response to the invasion. 

The majority of the apparent violations involved blacklisted Russian entities in Crimea, but others were tied to blacklisted entities in Cuba, Iran and Syria, authorities said. Microsoft also allegedly violated regulations that seek to block sensitive technologies from reaching U.S. adversaries, according to the settlement.

“Microsoft takes export control and sanctions compliance very seriously, which is why after learning of the screening failures and infractions of a few employees, we voluntarily disclosed them to the appropriate authorities,” a Microsoft spokesman said...

Microsoft used an indirect resale model in Russia to develop sales leads and negotiate bulk sales with end customers, according to the Treasury unit. The alleged violations came about after Microsoft failed to obtain accurate information about some of these end users, OFAC said...

The Microsoft employees involved in the misconduct have been subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination, the company’s spokesman said Thursday...