Iranian National Pleads Guilty to Illegally Exporting Missile Components and Radio Test Sets to Iran
U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan set sentencing for Aug. 4. Baniameri, who remains in federal custody, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for violating IEEPA and a maximum of 20 years in prison for violating AECA and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count. A written plea agreement contemplates a sentencing guideline range of 46 to 57 months imprisonment.
According to the plea agreement and other court records, sometime before Oct. 10, 2008, Mousavi, based in Iran, contacted Baniameri in California and requested that he purchase and export radio test sets from the United States to Iran, through Dubai. Baniameri agreed and over the next few months negotiated the purchase of three Marconi radio test sets from a company in Illinois. Ultimately, Baniameri arranged for the radio test kits to be sent to him in California, where he shipped them to Dubai, for ultimate transshipment to Iran. At no time did Baniameri obtain or attempt to obtain a license from the U.S. government for the export of the radio test sets.
The plea agreement also states that, sometime before Aug. 10, 2009, Mousavi contacted Baniameri and requested that he purchase and export to Iran via Dubai 10 connector adapters for the TOW and TOW2 missile systems. Baniameri agreed to purchase the items on behalf of Mousavi, and over the next few months, he admitted that he and his co-defendants attempted to purchase 10 connector adaptors from a company in Illinois, which unbeknownst to them, was in fact a company controlled by law enforcement. In September 2009, Baniameri admitted that he directed Telemi to take possession of the connector adaptors in California after having paid $9,450 to a representative of the Illinois company. To further facilitate the export of these items to Iran, Baniameri arranged to fly from the United States to Dubai and then from Dubai to Iran. At no time did Baniameri obtain or attempt to obtain a license from the U.S. government for the export of the connector adaptors. He was arrested before leaving the United States.
Khalili and other defendant were charged in a nine-count indictment returned on January 28, 2010, with conspiracy, money laundering, smuggling, and violations of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
According to court documents, Khalili and his co-conspirator have been working with the Iranian government to procure military items for the Iranian government. In November 2009, Khalili contacted an undercover agent seeking parts for the military aircraft for export to Iran.
The parts requested by Khalili are designated as defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List and require a U.S. State Department export license. In addition, these items may not be exported to Iran without a license from the U.S. Treasury Department due to the U.S. trade embargo on Iran. Neither Khalili nor his co-conspirator obtained the required export licenses.
On November 20, 2009, Khalili send an e-mail to the undercover agent containing a list of aircraft parts for the military aircraft and inquiring about their prices. In December 2009, Khalili and his co-conspirator talked with the agent and informed him that the parts were to be sent to Iran and that, because of the U.S. embargo, they would need to be re-routed through an intermediate country. When the undercover agent agreed to send the requested parts to the defendants, Khalili and his other co-conspirators sent four separate cash deposits totaling in excess of $70,000 from a bank in U.A.E. to a bank in Alabama as down-payment for the aircraft parts.
Khalili faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Bujduveanu was sentenced in a U.S. Southern District of Florida Court to 35 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release. Bujduveanu plead guilty in April, 2009 to conspiracy to export and export of aircraft parts from the U.S. to Iran, in violation of the Iran Embargo, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
Bujduveanu, a Romanian national and a naturalized U.S. citizen, admitted that he and his Orion Aviation corporation in Plantation, FL, sold aircraft parts to Hassan Keshari and Kesh Air International, who used a freight forwarder in Dubai, UAE, to forward the parts to Iran. Some of the parts exported were designed exclusively for fighter jets and military helicopters, and all are used in the Iranian military fleet.
All parts exported were designated by the U.S. Department of State as defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List, thus requiring export authorization from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls with the Department of State. Neither Bujduveanu nor his co-defendants had such authorization.
Bujduveanu received from Keshari e-mails detailing specific aircraft part orders for buyers in Iran, and would ship the parts to a company in Dubai using false shipping documents. The parts would then be forwarded to the purchasers in Iran.
In an indictment, a Miami federal grand jury charged that Fattahi and ten other defendants conspired to and illegally shipped thirteen different types of aircraft parts designated as defense articles on the USML from the U.S. to Iran via Dubai, U.A.E.. The specific parts are known to be used primarily by the Iranian military. All of the parts exported were manufactured in the U.S., designed exclusively for military use, and designated by the U.S. Department of State as “defense articles” on the USML, which requires registration and licensing with the DDTC. Neither Fattahi nor other defendants were registered or obtained licenses from DDTC to ship these goods to Iran.
The indictment alleges that the defendants in Iran sent, via e-mail, orders to a co-conspirator in Novato, California, for specific aircraft parts. The co-conspirator in California would, allegedly, contact a counterpart in Florida and would make arrangements for the sale and shipment of the parts to one of the several defendant counterparts in Dubai. The parts were then shipped from Dubai to their final destination in Iran.
If convicted, the defendants face a statutory ten to twenty years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $1 million.
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The Indictment includes charges of conspiracy, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the United States Iran Embargo, and making false statements to federal agencies in connection with the export of thousands of U.S. goods to Iran. Specifically, the Indictment alleges that the defendants purchased, and then caused the export of U.S. dual-use goods to ultimate buyers in Iran through middle countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, England, Germany, and Singapore. Dual-use commodities are those that have commercial application, but could potentially be used to further the military or nuclear programs of other nations and thus could be detrimental to the foreign policy or national security of the United States.
The goods at issue are controlled by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) for missile technology, national security and antiterrorism reasons as well as under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). In this case, the Indictment alleges that the defendants exported 120 field-programmable gate arrays, over 5,000 integrated circuits of varying types, around 345 Global Positioning Systems (GPS), 12,000 Microchip brand micro-controllers, and a Field Communication. These commodities have potential military applications, including as components in construction of improvised explosive devises (IEDs).
The charges announced are the result of a criminal investigation that was initiated in July 2006. Led by the Commerce Department, the investigation also included the efforts of the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State and Treasury.
As a result of investigation, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a Final Rule in the Federal Register announcing 75 additions to its Entity List because of their involvement in this illegal global procurement network for the benefit of the Iranian Government, and for their relationship to the Mayrow General Trading, one of the procurement front companies.
Iran is currently trying to procure items for its uranium enrichment centrifuge program. Iran has admitted to evading international sanctions to procure sensitive items that can contribute to its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Specifically, Iranian entities form front companies in other countries for the sole purpose of exporting items to Iran that can be used in the nuclear and missile programs.
BIS recommends that the U.S. exporters take the following steps to prevent illicit export to Iran (more detail on the BIS Iranian Guidance website):
- Know your consumer;
- Understand “Red Flag” indicators;
- Be cautious of customers operating in transshipment countries or free trade zones;
- Screen parties to a transaction using the U.S. Government “Lists to Check” on BIS website;
- Contact BIS if something does not seem right about the transaction or if you suspect a shipment may have been diverted to Iran;
- Subscribe to the BIS listserv and to the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) service to receive notifications about changes to the Entity List and List of Specially Designation Nationals and Blocked Persons.
All exports to Iran are subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the Department of the Treasury’s Iranian Transaction Regulations (ITR). Exports must be authorized by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prior to exporting to Iran. If ORAC authorizes such an export or reexport, no separate authorization from BIS is necessary.
The administration also accused the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps, a part of Iran’s military, of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, the officials said. While the United States has long labeled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the decision to single out the Guard reflects increased frustration in the administration with the slow pace of diplomatic negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The designations put into play unilateral sanctions intended to impede the Revolutionary Guard and those who do business with it. This is the first time that the United States has taken such steps against the armed forces of any sovereign government.
The article goes on to state:
The immediate legal consequence of designating the Quds unit as a terrorist organization will make it unlawful for anyone subject to United States jurisdiction to knowingly provide material support or resources to it, according to the State Department. Any United States financial institution that becomes aware that it possesses, or has control over, funds of a foreign terrorist organization would have to turn them over to the Treasury Department.
Because Iran has done little business with the United States in more than two decades, the larger point of the designation would be to heighten the political and psychological pressure on Iran, administration officials said, by using the designation to persuade foreign governments and financial institutions to cut ties with Iranian businesses and individuals.