May 03, 2013, 12:09 PM — Dell is investigating a report that a Middle East reseller has sold large numbers of computers to a Syrian company with ties to the embattled government there, in violation of U.S. export restrictions.
Despite U.S. trade sanctions against Syria, Dell reseller BDL Gulf sold Dell laptops, tablets and desktop computers to Anas Hasoon Trading, a Damascus-based company, according to a New York Times story. The Times obtained email messages, sales receipts and other documents detailing the purchases, it said.
Dell officials recently learned of the allegations from a whistleblower, said Jess Blackburn, a company spokesman.
"Dell is investigating an allegation we received recently that BDL, an authorized reseller of Dell products, was involved in a possible transaction involving Syria," he said in an email. "Dell requires its resellers to follow U.S. trade requirements, just as Dell does."
Dell resellers are prohibited from selling products to a customer in a restricted country, Blackburn said. Dell doesn't have further details on its investigation, he said.
RamaNarayan Singh, a sales manager for BDL, didn't return a message seeking comment on the Dell investigation. The Times story identified Singh as the salesman who communicated with Anas Hasoon Trading.
Singh told the Times that BDL sells to hundreds of customers and doesn't keep track of their locations.
In April 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order barring U.S. companies from exporting IT products to Syria and Iran. Obama accused the governments of the two countries of human rights abuses.
Human rights groups have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime of killing tens of thousands of people in a civil war that started in early 2011.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.