Sixteen Charged With Exporting Electronics to Iran

Eight people and eight companies from Dubai, Iran and Malaysia have been charged by a Florida grand jury with exporting sensitive electronics equipment from the U.S. to Iran, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The 13-count indictment, returned on Sept. 11 and unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, includes charges of conspiracy, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the U.S. Iran Embargo, and making false statements to federal agencies in connection with the export of thousands of U.S. goods to Iran.

The indictment accuses the defendants of purchasing, then illegally exporting, numerous "dual use" products -- items that have commercial applications but could also be used by other countries' military or nuclear programs.

The defendants participated in the export of 120 field-programmable gate arrays, more than 5,000 integrated circuits, about 345 GPS (Global Positioning System) devices and 12,000 micro-controllers. The items all have potential military applications, including use for the construction of explosive devices, the DOJ said.

In addition to the Florida charges, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security announced Wednesday that it has identified 75 people or companies that are part of a global procurement network seeking to acquire dual-use and military components for the Iranian government. The charges came from an extensive U.S. government investigation into homemade bombs used against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the DOJ said.

"I urge any domestic supplier who may have unwittingly helped the defendants, or others like them, to come forth and report the matter to federal law enforcement," R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement. "We cannot profit at the expense of our soldiers' safety abroad."

Acosta's office and other agencies continue to investigate the matter, he said.

The U.S. has banned most imports from Iran since 1987, due to its alleged support of international terrorism. In 1997, former President Bill Clinton banned virtually all trade with Iran, although the restrictions were relaxed in 2000 to allow U.S. import of Iranian carpets and some food items.

The businesses charged in Florida are: Mayrow General Trading, Atlinx Electronics, Micatic General Trading, Madjico Micro Electronics, and Al-Faris, all Dubai-based businesses; Neda Industrial Group, an Iran-based business; and Eco Biochem Sdn BHD and Vast Solution Sdn BHD, Malaysian businesses.

People charged are: Ali Akbar Yahya and Farshid Gillardian, both Iranian nationals who are naturalized British citizens; F.N. Yaghmaei, Bahman Ghandi, Ahmad Rahzad, all Iranian nationals; Kaam Chee Mun, a resident of Malaysia; Djamshid Nezhad, a resident of Germany; and Majid Seif, an Iranian national residing in Malaysia.

If convicted on the conspiracy charges, the defendants each face up to five years in prison. If convicted of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iran Embargo, the defendants each face up to 20 years in prison. The false statements charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The defendants each face fines of up to US$1 million.

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