Dell Inc., the world’s third-largest personal-computer maker, said it’s investigating allegations that one of its resellers was involved in a possible transaction with Syria.
Computer equipment from Dell has been sold to the Syrian government through BDL Gulf, an authorized reseller for Dell in the Middle East and Africa, the New York Times reported today, citing e-mails, cash-transfer statements and other documents.
“We have no details to provide on the investigation except that it is under way,” Jess Blackburn, a spokesman for Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, said in an e-mailed statement. “Dell requires its resellers to follow U.S. trade requirements, just as Dell does. Resellers of Dell products and services are contractually prohibited from selling or shipping any technology to a customer in a restricted country.”
Representatives of BDL Gulf didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours. BDL is an authorized Dell reseller, according to its website.
Syria has obtained equipment from U.S.-based manufacturers in the past. Hewlett-Packard Co. products used for a Syrian surveillance system were sold by a partner firm that didn’t know where the gear was being shipped, the computer maker told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a letter late last year.
Hewlett-Packard equipment worth more than $500,000 was installed in computer rooms in Syria, underpinning a surveillance system being built to track citizens’ e-mails and Internet use, Bloomberg News reported in November 2011. The Italian company running the project, Area SpA, bought the equipment through resellers in Italy, according to the report. Area has since pulled the plug on the project.
The New York Times initially reported that BDL Gulf is owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The newspaper later corrected the story, saying that the information was erroneous.
Neither Alwaleed “nor his senior advisors are aware of a connection with this company, BDL Gulf,” Heba Fatani, a spokeswoman for Alwaleed, wrote in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. “The first they learned of this allegation was through media reports.”