Monday, January 18, 2010

Three Charged in U.S. Over Illegal I.R. Iran Shipments

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Agence France Presse (AFP)

Three men have been charged in the United States with illegally shipping sensitive technology to Iran in violation of federal trade laws, justice officials said Wednesday. A federal court has accused two men, Jiraiir Avanessian, 56, of Los Angeles and Iranian national Farhoud Masoumian, 42, of a conspiracy which includes allegations of smuggling, money laundering and other crimes. Avanessian was arrested on Monday at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale while an arrest warrant has been issued for Masoumian. A third man, Amirhossein Sairafi, was arrested earlier this week in Frankfurt, Germany by law enforcement authorities acting on a provisional arrest warrant from the United States. According to a federal indictment and criminal complaint, Iran-born Avanessian is the owner and operator of California-based XVAC.

Avanessian allegedly corresponded with Masoumian and Sairafi via e-mail for at least two years to arrange the export of high-value vacuum pumps and related equipment to Iran through a trade zone located in the United Arab Emirates. According to US law, individuals are prohibited from exporting such technology to Iran without a license. Law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times the technology in the case could possibly be used for "development of nuclear capabilities." If convicted on all counts, Avanessian and Masoumian face statutory maximum sentences of 615 years and 525 in federal prison, respectively, according to the US Justice Department.