On May 16, 2012, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a press release stating that Massoud Habibion, 49, a U.S. citizen, Mohsen Motamedian, 44, a U.S. citizen, and their Costa Mesa, CA, company, Online Micro LLC, were sentenced in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia in connection with a scheme to illegally export millions of dollars worth of computer-related goods from the U.S. to Iran through the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Specifically, in November 2009, and continuing through December 2010, Habibion and Online Micro conspired with a company operating in Dubai and Tehran, to procure U.S. -origin computer-related goods and export those goods to Iran via the UAE. During the scope of the conspiracy, Online Micro and Habibion sold to that company and exported from the U.S. numerous shipments of computer-related goods, worth a total of more than $4,904,962, with knowledge that the majority of those goods were destined for Iran.
Online Micro also filed false Shipper's Export Declarations (SEDs) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identifying the ultimate destination of the goods as the UAE. During the course of the investigation, Habibion and Motamedian told a government cooperator to lie to U.S. law enforcement officials about Iran being the true ultimate destination for the goods and counseled him to tell U.S. law enforcement agents that the computer-related goods remained in Dubai.
Habibion and Motamedian were arrested on a criminal complaint in California on April 7, 2011, and indicted on April 21, 2011. Habibion was sentenced to 13 months in prison for conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEPA) and to defraud the U.S. Motamedian was sentenced to three years supervised release for obstruction of justice.
Under the terms of their guilty pleas and related civil settlements with the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and OFAC, Habibion and his company have agreed to forfeiture of $1.9 million seized from Online Micro's bank accounts by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) during the course of the investigation. In addition, Habibion and Online Micro are denied export privileges for 10 years, although the denial order will be suspended provided that neither Habibion nor Online Micro commit any export violations during the 10-year probationary period and comply with the terms of the criminal plea agreements and sentences. Motamedian separately agreed to a $50,000 monetary penalty to settle a civil charge that he solicited a false statement to federal law enforcement agents.