(March 17, 2020 / JNS) An Iranian national and United Arab Emirates resident was extradited from the country of Georgia to San Antonio over the weekend for allegedly illegally exporting military sensitive parts from the United States to Iran, announced the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday.
Merdad Ansari, 38, is accused of being connected to a scheme to obtain military sensitive parts for Iran in violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo, according to federal authorities.
The parts had dual-use military and civilian capability. They could potentially be used in systems pertaining to nuclear weapons; missile guidance and development; secure tactical radio communications; offensive electronic warfare; military electronic countermeasures (radio jamming); and radar warning and surveillance systems, according to the DOJ.
“As alleged, the defendant helped Iran to develop its weapons programs by obtaining military parts in violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers. “We are grateful for the work our partners have done to ensure Ansari can be brought to justice.”
FBI San Antonio Division special agent in charge Christopher Combs said “the FBI greatly appreciates the collaborative efforts and unwavering support from the Georgian Government and our federal partners. Together, over several years, we relentlessly pursued every lead to ensure that Ansari would eventually face the charges detailed in the indictment.”
“Investigating criminal violations of U.S. trade embargoes is one of the FBI’s highest priorities since this criminal activity affects the national security of the United States and our allies, especially the security of our troops abroad,” he said.
Ansari and his co-defendant, Mehrdad Foomanie (aka Frank Foomanie) of Iran, were charged in a federal grand-jury indictment in June 2012 with conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Foomanie remains a fugitive in this case.
The ITR, renamed the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations in October 2012, prohibit, among other things, the exportation, re-exportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, to Iran or the Iranian government, of any goods, technology or services from the United States or by a U.S. person. The embargo also prohibits any transaction by any U.S. person or within the United States that evades or avoids, or has the purpose of evading or avoiding, any prohibition set forth in executive orders.
In October 2012, a third co-defendant, Susan Yip (aka Susan Yeh), a Taiwanese citizen, was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to violate the ITR by acting as a broker and conduit for Foomanie to buy items in the United States and have them unlawfully shipped to Iran.
Foomanie also bought or attempted to buy items in America and arranged to have them unlawfully shipped to Iran through his companies in Iran (Morvarid Shargh Co. Ltd.); in Hong Kong (Panda Semiconductor and Foang Tech Inc., aka Ofogh Electronics Co.); and in China (Ninehead Bird Semiconductor), according to the 2012 indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Ansari attempted to trans-ship and trans-shipped cargo obtained from the United States by Yip and Foomanie using Ansari’s company, Gulf Gate Sea Cargo L.L.C., located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
In her guilty plea, Yip admitted to using her companies in Taiwan, Hivocal Technology Company, Ltd.; Enrich Ever Technologies Co., Ltd.; and Kuang-Su Corporation; and in Hong Kong (Infinity Wise Technology; Well Smart (HK) Technology; Pinky Trading Co., Ltd.; and Wise Smart (HK) Electronics Limited) to carry out the fraudulent scheme.
If convicted, Ansari and Foomanie face up to a maximum of 45 years in federal prison, according to the DOJ.
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