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California Business Owners Plead Guilty to Iranian Shipments
Posted By Jeffrey Benzing On February 16, 2012 @ 4:12 pm In Iran, National Security Regulation | Comments Disabled
Two California men admitted Thursday to a criminal scheme to ship computers to Iran through Dubai without required authorization from the Department of the Treasury.
Massoud Habibion, 49, co-owner of Online Micro LLC, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to defraud the United States before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in Washington, D.C.
Online Micro co-owner Mohsen Motamedian, 44, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
Habibion and Motamedian were arrested in California April 7 and were indicted, along with their company, April 21.
In November 2009, according to the criminal indictment, Online Micro began shipping computer products worth $4.9 million for a company operating in Dubai and Tehran. The company’s relationship with the Iranian buyer goes back to 2005, the indictment said, and Habibion did not seek a license from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The company also told an Iranian national involved in the conspiracy to tell U.S. law enforcement agents that the shipment was going to Dubai – not Iran. According to the Justice Department, the defendants told the third individual that sanctions on Iran were “not a joke.”
In May 2007, Online Micro, which also pleaded guilty, bought $500,000 in computers from Dell Inc., and was suspended by the company from placing any more orders after Dell started to get service calls from individuals in Iran.
The investigation was conducted by the Homeland Security Investigations field offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego and Orange County, with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Industry and Security at the Commerce Department.
Habibion faces five years in prison, with a $1 million fine facing his company. Motamedian faces 20 years in prison, with sentencing set for May 16.
Under the terms of the plea and related civil settlements with BIS and OFAC, Habibion and Online Micro have agreed to forfeit $1.9 million.
Both Habibion and Online Micro cannot export for 10 years, though this order is suspended pending cooperation with the terms of the plea agreements and sentences.
Motamedian also agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a civil charge for soliciting false statements to federal agents.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys T. Patrick Martin and Anthony Asuncion in the District of Columbia and trial attorney Jonathan C. Poling from the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
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