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3M agrees to pay almost $10 million to settle apparent Iran sanctions violations

CNN  — 

3M has agreed to pay almost $10 million to settle apparent violations of Iranian sanctions, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control said last week.

The agency said 3M had 54 apparent violations of OFAC sanctions on Iran. It said between 2016 and 2018, a 3M subsidiary in Switzerland allegedly knowingly sold reflective license plate sheeting through a German reseller to Bonyad Taavon Naja, an entity which is under Iranian law enforcement control.

It’s the latest of a stream of high-publicity and high-dollar settlements that 3M — which makes Post-It notes, Scotch Tape, N95 masks and other industrial products — has made this year.

3M has not replied to a request for comment regarding last week’s settlement announcement.

One US person employed by 3M Gulf, a subsidiary in Dubai, was “closely involved” in the sale, OFAC said.

The alleged sales occurred after an outside due diligence report, which flagged connections to Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces.

OFAC notes Iranian law enforcement stands accused of human rights violations both in Iran and Syria.

The Switzerland subsidiary, known as 3M East, sent 43 shipments to the German reseller even though it knew the products would be resold to the Iranian entity, according to the OFAC.

OFAC said senior managers at 3M Gulf “willfully violated” sanctions laws and that other employees were “reckless in their handling” of the sales.

“These employees had reason to know that these sales would violate U.S. sanctions, but ignored ample evidence that would have alerted them to this fact,” OFAC wrote.

3M voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations after discovering the sale hadn’t been authorized, according to OFAC. It said it fired or reprimanded “culpable” employees involved, hired new trade compliance counsel, revamped sanctions trainings and stopped doing business with the German reseller.

In June, 3M agreed to pay up to $10.3 billion over 13 years to fund public water suppliers in the United States that have detected toxic “forever chemicals” in drinking water.

3M has faced thousands of lawsuits through the last two decades over its manufacturing of products containing polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been found in hundreds of household products.

3M said that the multi-billion-dollar settlement over PFAS is not an admission of liability.

A few months later, in August, the company agreed to pay $6 billion to resolve roughly 300,000 lawsuits alleging that the manufacturing company supplied faulty combat earplugs to the military that resulted in significant injuries, such as hearing loss.

3M also said its earplug agreement was not an admission of liability.