Two international business organizations pleaded guilty and were sentenced today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for their participation in a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. export laws and sanctions by sending US-origin goods to Iran.
Taiwan business organization DES International Co. Ltd. (DES), and Brunei business organization Soltech Industry Co. Ltd. (Soltech) each pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.
“The defendant companies, which shared common directors and employees, have pled guilty to obtaining U.S. export-controlled goods for the benefit of the government of Iran and concealing the US origin of those good to facilitate their illicit transfer,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Today we are holding them accountable for violating our laws at the expense of US national security.”
The two companies were each sentenced to pay a fine of $83,769, which is three times the value of the goods unlawfully exported to Iran, and to serve a five-year term of corporate probation. The sentences were issued by U.S. District Judge Jia M. Cobb.
“These criminal convictions demonstrate that we will pursue any individual or organization, wherever located, that would violate our sanctions against Iran and thereby threaten our national security,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves for the District of Columbia.
“HSI will continue to work with our federal and international law enforcement partners to ensure offenders who are violating U.S. export laws and sanctions are brought to justice,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee of HSI San Antonio. “We will remain steadfast in our commitment to protect our homeland from all adversaries.
“The defendants in this case took actions that placed profit and economic gain above US national security and global stability,” said Special Agent in Charge Oliver E. Rich Jr. of the FBI San Antonio Field Office. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates the unwavering commitment of the FBI, US Attorney’s Office, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defence and Department of Commerce (DOC) to hold accountable anyone who would threaten US national security and the safety of the American people.”
According to the plea agreement documents, DES and Soltech, which were affiliatd with one another by virtue of common directors, employees and customers, both procured goods from the United States for the benefit of Iranian government entities and business organizations. In particular, a sales agent for both DES and Soltech helped an Iranian research center obtain US goods without a license from the Department of the Treasury.
“Keeping our nation’s sensitive technologies out of the hands of our adversaries is one of our highest priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael Mentavlos of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Southwest Field Office. “DCIS, the law enforcement arm of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General and our federal partners are committed to identifying and holding accountable those that seek to evade U.S. export enforcement laws, putting our war fighters at risk.”
These goods included a power amplifier designed for use in electromechanical devices as well as cybersecurity software. The companies’ sales agent took steps to conceal the US origin of the goods, including by removing serial number stickers with the phrase “Made in USA” from packages, and by causing the cybersecurity software to be downloaded onto a computer outside of Iran. In addition, the sales agent shared developments regarding this illegal conduct with other employees and directors of DES and Soltech. An arrest warrant issued for the sales agent has not yet been executed.
“The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)’s aggressive enforcement of the Export Administration Regulations plays a critical role in protecting US national security,” said Special Agent in Charge Trey McClish of the DOC. “In this instance, our partnership with HSI, DCIS, FBI and the US Attorney’s Office sends the message that violating US export control rules on Iran will not be tolerated.”
The FBI San Antonio Field Office, HSI, DCIS and DOC investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Friedman for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Christopher M. Rigali of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.