Microsoft is investigating how some of its products were sold to businesses and government offices within Russia and Crimea despite strict sanctions against such sales.
El Reg understands the American software giant has been probing these sanctions-dodging allegations for some time now, and that the products in question are mass-market items – think Windows and Office – rather than customized or niche packages.
It is also believed Russian government agencies duped resellers by providing fake documentation, thus tricking the suppliers into thinking they were handing over gear to non-Russian outfits.
A spokesperson for Microsoft confirmed to The Register on Wednesday that it is probing claims its resellers violated trade restrictions that ban the export of software from the US into Russia. These restrictions are part of a raft of sanctions brought against President Putin's nation by America for annexing Crimea back in 2014. No wonder Vlad wanted to cause merry mayhem in the US two years later.
"Microsoft has a strong commitment to complying with legal requirements and we have been looking into this matter in recent weeks," Redmond's spokesperson told us.
"We have robust trade compliance processes around the world to help ensure that our partners comply with all conditions including immediate halting of suspected improper sales by partners, and strong measures to try to prevent banned customers from accessing and using our products and services."
Earlier on Wednesday, it was reported that Russian and Crimean government agencies had purchased Microsoft products through third-party resellers in apparent violation of US trade sanctions that forbid the sale of code to those governments. The reported buyers include government-backed arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey and construction company Glavgosexpertiza.
That Microsoft's products have surfaced in Russia despite the crackdown is not a huge shock, given that Redmond has tens of thousands of resellers and service providers who flog its products.
Aside from legitimate sales, Microsoft also has an enormous problem with blaggers and chancers ripping off its products or selling dodgy copies of software with counterfeit software keys. A quick search on sqoop.com of legal filings brought by Redmond against third-party suppliers shows just how many pirates Microsoft has to deal with in the US alone. ®