U.S. companies violated Iran sanctions, indictment says

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Story highlights

  • International negotiators are trying to use sanctions to persuade Iran to limit nuclear ambitions
  • Individuals charged each face up to 20 years in prison; companies face million-dollar fines
  • National security was compromised as sanctions were violated, officials say

(CNN)Four companies and five people have been charged with violating U.S. sanctions on Iran just as American officials are working to use those sanctions to persuade Iran to renounce any ambition to develop nuclear arms.

A 24-count indictment unsealed this week charges that the companies and people involved facilitated the illegal export to Iran of technology that is commonly used in military systems.
They include high-tech microelectronics, uninterruptible power supplies and other goods in violation of U.S. law.

    Negotiators set June 30 deadline

    At the beginning of April, six world powers, the U.S. among them, agreed with Iran on the framework for a deal, under which the country would allay international concerns that it was developing nuclear weapons. The incentive for Iran -- elimination of the crippling sanctions imposed on it by the international community, including the U.S.
    Negotiators have set themselves a deadline of June 30 for reaching a final agreement. The other countries involved in the talks are Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

    Companies named from Houston, L.A., Taiwan, Turkey and Iran

    The companies charged in the U.S. indictment, which was unsealed on Friday, are Houston-based Smart Power Systems Inc., Hosoda Taiwan Limited Corporation, Golsad Istanbul Trading Ltd. and and the Faratel Corporation in Iran.
    The people named in the indictment who are in the United States were Bahram Mechanic and Tooraj Faridi, both of Houston, and Khosrow Afghahi of Los Angeles.
    According to the charges, they were members of an Iranian procurement network operating in the United States. Mechanic and Faridi were reported to be the co-ownwers of Faratel Corporation.
    Also named were Arthur Shyu, who is affiliated with Hosada Taiwan, and Matin Sadeghi, who is affiliated with the Turkish company Golsad.
    "The nine defendants charged in the indictment allegedly circumvented U.S. sanctions and illegally exported controlled microelectronics to Iran," said John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security. He said that such violations can undercut sanctions and work to spoil U.S. foreign policy.

    Four federal agencies make joint announcement of indictments

    In addition to the Justice Department, those announcing the unsealing of the indictment included the FBI, the Department of Commerce and the Internal Revenue Service.
    "The proliferation of sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran and the direct support to their military and weapons programs remains a clear threat to U.S. national security," said Randall Coleman, assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.
    The indictment alleges that, beginning around July 2010, those charged engaged in a conspiracy to obtain commodities, including controlled microelectronics of American origin. They then allegedly exported these to Iran.
    They can be used in surface-to-air and cruise missiles and other military implements, the indictment said. Between July 2010 and the present, Mechanic's network allegedly sent at least $24 million worth of product to Iran.
    Each of the individual defendants faces as much as 20 years in prison. The the corporate defendants face fines of up to $1 million for each count.
    People stand in the sunroof of a car and flash the 'V for Victory' sign as they celebrate on Valiasr street in northern Tehran on April 2, 2015, after the announcement of an agreement on Iran nuclear talks. Iran and global powers sealed a deal on April 2 on plans to curb Tehran's chances for getting a nuclear bomb, laying the ground for a new relationship between the Islamic republic and the West.