Bloomberg reports: The clandestine arrangement worked smoothly for years. The Israeli company shipped its Internet- monitoring equipment to a distributor in Denmark. Once there, workers stripped away the packaging and removed the labels.
Then they sent it to a man named “Hossein” in Iran, an amiable technology distributor known to them only by his first name and impeccable English, say his partners in Israel and Denmark.
Israeli trade, customs and defense officials say their departments didn’t know that the systems for peering into Internet traffic, sold under the brand name NetEnforcer, had gone to a country whose leaders have called for the destruction of the Jewish state. Israel’s ban on trade with its enemy failed, even though a paper trail on the deals was available in Denmark.
Allot Communications Ltd., a Hod Hasharon, Israel-based firm whose stock trades on Nasdaq and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and which reported $57 million in sales last year, sold its systems to a Randers, Denmark-based technology distributor.
Workers at that company, RanTek A/S, repackaged the gear and shipped it to Iran, according to four former employees of Allot and RanTek. The shipments were legal under Danish law.
Skirting a Ban
A sale as early as 2006 is corroborated by an export license application filed by RanTek, though the name of the customer in Iran was redacted by Danish authorities who provided the document to Bloomberg News.
The former employees identified the buyer as the technology distributor, Hossein.
The sales skirted a strict Israeli ban that prohibits “trading with the enemy,” including any shipments that reach Iran, Syria and Lebanon.
“This covers everything,” says Gavriel Bar, manager of the Middle East department at Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. “Imports, exports, direct, indirect. An Israeli company is not allowed to trade with Iran in any way.”
Three former sales employees for Allot say it was well known inside the company that the equipment was headed for Iran. Allot officials say they have no knowledge of their equipment going there and are looking into RanTek’s sales.
The simplest explanation for what was going on here was that Allot wasn’t going to let a trade ban stand in the way of a business opportunity. At the same time, there is little reason to think that the current Israeli government would have misgivings about the Iranian government being provided with additional tools to suppress political dissent. A democratic Iran would be unlikely to abandon its nuclear programme, yet it could not be demonized in the same way as the current regime — Ahmadinejad remains Israel’s worst and best enemy.