The US government has imposed a civil penalty on a Texas-based subsidiary of a German firm for repeated violations of American law regarding compliance with the Arab boycott of Israel.
In a settlement announced earlier this month, Rohde & Liesenfeld Inc., a freight-forwarder based in Houston, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $108,000 to settle charges leveled against it by the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security.
The bureau, which oversees enforcement of US anti-boycott rules, had accused the company of 36 violations of the law between July 2002 and March 2003 in a series of dealings with the Syrian petroleum company Al-Furat.
In the transactions in question, Rohde & Liesenfeld supplied the Damascus-based firm with invoices stating: "We certify that the goods enumerated in this Invoice are not of Israeli origin and do not contain any Israeli materials."
Various Muslim and Arab states regularly ask foreign firms to supply documentation confirming that they have no business or financial ties to Israel. US law requires American companies, as well as their subsidiaries, to report requests for such information to the Commerce Department.
"The Department of Commerce will continue to enforce its regulations prohibiting US companies from taking any action in support of restrictive trade practices or unsanctioned boycotts," said Darryl W. Jackson, assistant secretary of commerce for export enforcement.
"Companies likely to confront boycott issues should design and implement compliance plans that include appropriate employee training, senior management involvement and internal systems and safeguards for reporting and responding to them," Jackson said.
Michael Zuchold, a spokesman for Geodis Wilson, Rohde & Liesenfeld's parent company, told The Jerusalem Post that "R&L was taken over by Geodis in 2008. Of course we cannot comment on past business that was not handled or managed by us. What we can say is that R&L has just been integrated into our American structure - and that Geodis Wilson is absolutely compliant with US laws regarding foreign practices."