Criminal Justice News

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Iranian National Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Illegally Export Products From the United States to Iran


Arash Sepehri, 38, a citizen of Iran, pleaded guilty on Nov. 7, to a federal charge stemming from his role in a conspiracy to cause the export of controlled goods and technology to Iran, in violation of U.S. Department of Commerce and military controls, as well as in contravention of sanctions imposed against Iran.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.

Sepehri pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and to defraud the United States.

According to court documents filed in this case, Sepehri was an employee and a member of the board of directors of an Iranian company, Tajhiz Sanat Shayan, or Tajhiz Sanat Company (TSS).  TSS and other companies involved in the conspiracy were listed by the European Union on May 23, 2011, as entities being sanctioned for their involvement in the procurement of components for the Iranian nuclear program.  Through TSS and associated companies, Sepehri and others conspired to obtain high-resolution sonar equipment, data input boards, rugged laptops, acoustic transducers and other controlled technology from the United States without obtaining proper licenses and in violation of economic sanctions.

As stated in the court documents, Sepehri and his co-conspirators sought to evade legal controls through a variety of means, including the use of a variety of aliases, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based front companies and an intermediary shipping company based in Hong Kong.  Payments for the goods were arranged through the UAE.

The conspiracy charge in this case is a felony punishable by a statutory maximum of five years in prison and potential financial penalties.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  The sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  The Honorable Rosemary M. Collyer scheduled sentencing for Jan. 16, 2019.

This investigation was conducted jointly by agents from FBI’s Washington Field Office and HSI Washington, D.C.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal S. Chawla and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Dewar for the District of Columbia, with assistance from Trial Attorney Patrick T. Murphy of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.  Additional assistance was provided by Paralegal Specialist Matthew Ruggiero of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

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