Procurement database shows purchases of Microsoft products.
For years, American travel to Cuba was strictly controlled and often impossible, to the point that many people believed it was actually forbidden. What was accurate, though, was that sanctions were imposed by the US government, making it illegal for an American to spend money in the country. Basically, if you could get to Cuba and survive for the duration of your stay without needing so much as a crust of bread, you were technically within the confines of the law.
Of course, the workaround was booking a trip to the Bahamas or another nearby destination and then booking a completely separate, under-the-table excursion to Cuba. That same “stop by the Bahamas” is how Russia seems to have gotten around the US sanctions against doing business with the country, imposed nearly three years ago in response to its forced annexation of Crimea.
A Russian procurement database shows purchases of Microsoft products, but the current explanation seems to be that a third-party bought the large amount of software – about 5,000 products in all – for the purpose of selling it to the banned country.
“Microsoft has a strong commitment to complying with legal requirements and we have been looking into this matter in recent weeks,” a Microsoft representative said in response to an email from news service Reuters. “We have robust trade compliance processes around the world to help ensure that our partners comply with all conditions including immediate halting of suspected improper sales by partners, and strong measures to try to prevent banned customers from accessing and using our products and services.”
Tricks of the trade
There are a lot of other ways to get around the sanctions, sources told investigators. These include not just the purchase through third-party firms who specialize in procurement, but also registering the products with different addresses or under the names of parent companies that aren’t located within the country.