Iran General NewsProduce giant cleared to ship goods to Iran

Produce giant cleared to ship goods to Iran

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Washington Times: Food giant Fresh Del Monte Produce has won a license to ship dozens of products into Iran after taking the unusual step of filing a federal lawsuit against the Treasury Department. The Washington Times

By Jim McElhatton

Food giant Fresh Del Monte Produce has won a license to ship dozens of products into Iran after taking the unusual step of filing a federal lawsuit against the Treasury Department.

Del Monte had sought an injunction in federal court in the District to sell to 10 unnamed customers in Iran, asserting that federal officials “unlawfully” withheld a license to ship the goods.

Daniel Jarcho, an attorney for Del Monte, declined to comment on the case other than to say the company opted to withdraw its motion after it received the license in recent days. Andrew DeSouza, a Treasury spokesman, yesterday said officials do not comment on individual licensing applications or discuss lawsuits.

The Treasury Department”s Office of Foreign Asset Control has approved dozens of applications to ship medical and agricultural goods to Iran, federal records show.

The office issues quarterly reports on its licensing activities to Congress. The latest available report shows officials received 69 applications to ship agricultural goods to Iran from January through March 2006. It amended or granted 32 total licenses.

The document also notes eight applications to send goods to Iran were denied, though it is not clear whether the companies seeking licenses sought to ship food, medical devices or medicine.

Despite an embargo banning U.S. companies from doing business in Iran, federal law doesn”t prohibit sending food and medical supplies if companies get licensed by the Treasury Department. The U.S. embargo was enacted because Iran has been declared a state-sponsor of terrorism.

Food and medical shipments still can be banned if the proposed recipient is listed as a terrorist organization or if another government agency objects to the application on anti-terrorism grounds, according to federal rules.

Del Monte”s court papers say the company submitted a license application on Aug. 8 seeking permission for three company affiliates to ship 91 food products to 10 customers in Iran.

The specific types of products and identities of the customers were not named in the complaint.

In a motion to seal the records, Del Monte said disclosing the statements would hurt the company and give competitors access to confidential and protected business dealings.

One of the sealed documents included a statement from Mohammed Abbas, a general manager for Del Monte, on the company”s business in the Persian Gulf, court documents show.

The company said the 10 customers it planned to do business with in Iran did not appear on either the “foreign terrorist organizations” or “specifically designated terrorists” lists used by federal officials to screen applications for selling exporting goods to Iran.

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