Commerce Fines Three Companies for Complying with Arab Boycott

The Commerce Department fined three U.S. companies last week for allegedly complying with the Arab economic boycott of Israel.

A total of $54,000 in fines was levied against SSC Medical Instrumentation, Inc. of Concord, Mass.; the Los Angeles branch of Habib Bank AG Zurich; and World Trade Venture, Inc. of Berkeley Heights, N.J.

The companies each agreed to pay the fines, but they neither admitted nor denied the alleged violations.

The boycott, which has been in effect since before Israel’s creation in 1948, takes on three forms. The so-called primary boycott is directed against Israeli goods, while the so-called secondary and tertiary boycotts apply to companies doing business with Israel.

Both the Clinton administration and Congress have recently increased their efforts to end the boycott, which they say is a barrier to peaceful relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

A recent Commerce Department report said boycott activity has continued in the past year.

In an announcement released June 1, the department’s Bureau of Export Administration said World Trade Venture, Inc., a freight forwarder, agreed to pay $40,000 in response to allegations that it failed on 20 occasions to report requests for boycott-related information from Kuwait.

Habib Bank AG Zurich agreed to pay $9,000 in response to allegations it failed to report boycott-related information requested by the United Arab Emirates.

And SSC Medical Instrumentation will pay $5,000 for allegedly failing four times to report boycott-related requests by unidentified countries.

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