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Microsoft must pay a fine of more than $3 million to the U.S. government. The company allegedly violated sanctions taken against Russia. Microsoft’s software and services ended up in the hands of Russian companies and individuals located in the Crimean region of Ukraine.

Microsoft did business through a subsidiary in Russia, which appears to have been less than diligent in dealing with the sanctions. In one case, under a pseudonym, a company previously could still obtain a license to use Microsoft services. In addition, Microsoft’s ability to discern Cyrillic and Chinese characters was not up to par. As a result, some unwanted parties passed internal screening. So it does not appear to have been a deliberate policy from the U.S. headquarters. Still, the company sold $12 million worth of services to blacklisted entities. These parties are not allowed access to U.S. products.

Rounding error

To put the $3 million in context: Microsoft achieved a profit of nearly $140 billion in 2022. The impact of the fine will therefore look like a rounding error in the company’s budget. A Microsoft spokesman says it takes export controls very seriously and has voluntarily shared the information with authorities.

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