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February 05, 2009 

Website Established to Identify Companies Doing Business in Iran

The American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, recently launched the "Iranian Business Registry" (IBR) website, listing the names of companies around the world that do business in Iran.

The site, which is operated by the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) program, is intended to "educate investors, policymakers, and activists about companies reported to be doing business in Iran at this key moment when Iran finds itself uniquely susceptible to financial pressure."

The site includes the company name, the nationality of the company and the ticker symbol for publicly traded companies. The site also includes a Wall Street-style "ticker" containing the listed company names and ticker symbols. The companies are also organized by industry.

According to the site, the data on the companies to include in the IBR was collected from:

a wide variety of reports from major media outlets, trade publications, the government and respected academic sources on business activity in Iran. Additionally, certain sources were located on publicly available company websites and filings; all sources are cited and are available to the public. All sources appear with thorough citations and are not meant to be a complete history of the listed company or its business in Iran but rather examples of their reported business in Iran.
It appears that one of the sources of information was the Securities and Exchange Commission's controversial "List of Companies Doing Business With State Sponsors Of Terror", which was removed by the SEC in mid-2007. The SEC's list was subsequently withdraw after it was widely criticized as containing misleading and inaccurate information.

The site notes that "listings will be added, removed, or edited at the sole discretion of UANI and factors in determining listings include the credibility of the reporting organization, the nature of the report, and the company’s reported history of business in Iran."

Unfortunately, the site does not appear to distinguish those U.S. multinational companies that may be legally operating in Iran, such as pursuant to humanitarian licenses issued by the Treasury Department's Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), from other types of businesses operating in Iran. In the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA), Congress exempted from sanctions certain agricultural products, medicines and medical devices. Based upon a review of the companies listed, it appears that several of the companies listed produce humanitarian products eligible for OFAC licenses. In at least one case, for example, a listed company sells medical diagnostic kits.

Fortunately, the site provides information for listed companies to notify the sponsor where the information provided is inaccurate and allows companies to post a response to the allegations contained on the site.

Companies are encouraged to check the Iranian Business Registry to ensure that the information provided is accurate.


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