Individuals Indicted for Conspiracy to Export Computer-related Equipment to Iran

On  April 21, 2011, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that Jeng "Jay" Shih, a U.S. citizen, and his Queens, N.Y. company, Sunrise Technologies and Trading Company, were indicted in the District of Columbia on 27 counts relating to the illegal export of computer-related equipment to Iran without first having obtained the required Department of Treasury license. 

According to the indictment, Commerce Department agents visited Shih's business in New York in 2006 where they informed Shih about U.S. laws governing the export of goods from the U.S. to other countries, particularly embargoed countries like Iran.  In April 2010, ICE-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents seized hundreds of laptop computers that originated from Sunrise and were destined for Dubai, UAE. Communications related to these shipments indicated that the purchasers were located in Iran. 

The indictment further alleges that agents subsequently identified a company in Dubai that was purchasing millions of dollars of computers from U.S. companies for export to Iran, through Dubai. ICE-HIS agents arrested one of company's agents, who pleaded guilty in December 2010 and began cooperating with the government. In interviews with agents, the agent indicated that he and his company in Dubai had purchased million worth of laptops from Shih in recent years for shipment to Iran.  The agents determined that more than 1,000 computers had been shipped by Shih's company to Dubai and later to Iran, between April 2010, and May 2010, alone.

In February 2011, the cooperating agent met with Shih in New York.  In recorded conversations, Shih allegedly told the agent he was aware of the U.S. embargo against Iran and U.S. export control laws.  According to the indictment, Shih also told the cooperating individual how to avoid detection when shipping goods to Iran by using fake invoices and indicated that he treated the seizure of some of his shipments as a "loss" when reporting business income and loses on his U.S. taxes.

If Shih is convicted, he will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the IEEPA counts and five years for each false statement count, all related to this illegal exports case. 

DOJ also reported that Massoud Habibion, 48, aka "Matt Habibion" or "Matt Habi, and Mohsen Motamedian, 43, aka "Max Motamedian" or "Max Ehsan," both U.S.  citizens, and their Costa Mesa, California, company, Online Micro LLC, were indicted in the District of Columbia on 32 counts relating to the illegal export of computer-related equipment to Iran without the required Department of Treasury license. 

The indictment against Habibion and Motamedian alleges that a company in Dubai, referenced above in Shih's case, purchased millions of dollars worth of laptop computers from Online Micro and that these computers were subsequently shipped to Iran.  According to the affidavit, the cooperating agent for the Dubai company told federal agents that Habibion and Motamedian sold roughly $300,000 worth of computers to the Dubai company each month and that Habibion and Motamedian fully understood that the computers were destined for Iran.

In December 2010, the cooperating individual met with Habibion and Motamedian. Allegedly, they instructed the cooperating individual to make fake invoices to conceal that Iran was the destination of the shipments and to indicate that the end-users were in Dubai.  In addition, the indictment alleges that in a Jan. 5, 2011, meeting, Habibion told the cooperating individual to lie to federal agents about conducting business in Iran, stating, "If they ask you, for instance, 'Do you do business in Tehran?' 'No, I don't have any business in Tehran.  I go there to visit my family, but I have no business there.' They will ask such questions, it is part of their routine."

If Habibion or Motamedian are convicted, they will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the IEEPA counts and five years for each false statement count relating to this illegal exports case. In addition, they also face 20 years for each obstruction of justice count.