Warren Buffett’s Berkshire fined for breaking Iran sanctions via Turkey

U.S.-based multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has agreed to settle civil allegations over its involvement with “an egregious case” of U.S. sanctions violations against Iran, the U.S. Department of Treasury said in a statement on Tuesday.

The conglomerate, with investor Warren Buffett as CEO, has agreed to pay $4,144,651 “to settle its potential civil liability for trade-related transactions and exports to Iran engaged in by its indirectly wholly owned Turkish subsidiary,” the Treasury said.

Between 2012 and 2016, Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary ISCAR Turkey sold $383,443 worth of cutting tools and machine parts to two Turkish companies with knowledge that they would be resold to Iran, the department said.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said the conglomerate “voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations to OFAC in May 2016 after receiving an anonymous tip in January 2016” and replaced its personnel involved in the violations.

The general manager of ISCAR Turkey “believed it was inevitable that U.S. and European Union sanctions against Iran would be lifted and sought to be well positioned to sell in the Iranian market,” the Treasury said. The company took steps to conceal its dealings with Iran from Berkshire, including using cash payments in euros, instructing employees to use private e-mail accounts, and doctoring invoices to obscure the buyers.

ISCAR Turkey’s dealings with Iran were in violation of U.S. sanctions that prohibit doing business directly or indirectly with the Iranian government, or people subject to Iran’s jurisdiction.