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China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC)

China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC)

Industry: 
Aerospace, Construction, Defense, Shipping
Country: 
China
Sources: 

"Chinese companies banned from doing business in the U.S. for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran continue to do a brisk trade with American companies, according to an analysis of shipping records.

A unit of state-owned China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp., for example, has made nearly 300 illegal shipments to U.S. firms since a ban was imposed on CPMIEC and its affiliates in mid-2006, according to an analysis of shipping records by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a nonprofit proliferation watchdog.

A Wall Street Journal review of the records and interviews with officials at some of the American companies indicate that the U.S. firms likely were unaware they were doing business with banned entities, and in many cases were tripped up by altered company names.

The CPMIEC shipments, worth millions of dollars, include everything from anchors and drilling equipment to automobile parts and toys. In many cases, CPMIEC acted as a shipping intermediary -- activity also banned under a 2006 presidential order.

The ability of CPMIEC and other foreign companies to continue doing business in the U.S. despite the sanctions comes as the Obama administration considers fresh economic sanctions against Iran. The illegal shipments suggest that U.S. sanctions have become so numerous and complex that they have become difficult to enforce...

In June 2006, the U.S. banned CPMIEC and three other Chinese companies from conducting business in the U.S., citing their alleged sales of missile technology to Iran in defiance of previous sanctions. Two months later, a shipment of oil-drainage tanks from Shanghai landed at the port of Tacoma, Wash., bound for a New York City firm, American Forge & Foundry Inc. The shipper: a unit of CPMIEC, according to a shipping record known as a bill of lading...

John Iliff, general manager of American Forge & Foundry, says the single shipment of oil-drainage tanks it received in 2006 from the CPMIEC unit set off no alarms. 'Trading in illegal goods certainly never crossed our minds,' he says.

The shipment came from China JMM Import & Export Shanghai Pudong Corp., which didn't appear on any sanctions list until Thursday. Records indicate the company shares an address and phone number with a CPMIEC unit that was previously banned: CPMIEC Shanghai Pudong Corp. The Treasury determined that the two companies are affiliated." (The Wall Street Journal, "Chinese Evade U.S. Sanctions on Iran," 1/5/10)