- The Washington Times - Friday, April 22, 2011

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., on Friday indicted three persons and two companies on charges of illegally exporting millions of dollars worth of computer-related equipment from the United States to Iran via the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Todd Hinnen, acting assistant attorney general for national security, said Jeng “Jay” Shih, 53, a U.S. citizen who lives in Queens, N.Y., and Massoud Habibion, 48, and Mohsen Motamedian, 43, also U.S. citizens who live in Costa Mesa, Calif., illegally exported millions of dollars worth of laptop computers and equipment to Iran without obtaining the required licenses from the Treasury Department.

Mr. Shih and his Queens, N.Y., firm, Sunrise Technologies and Trading Co., were indicted in the District of Columbia on 27 counts, accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); making or causing to be made false statements to the United States; and the criminal forfeiture of property and proceeds derived from these offenses.

He was arrested on a criminal complaint in New York on April 6. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the IEEPA counts and five years for each false statement count.

Mr. Habibion and Mr. Motamedian and their Costa Mesa company, Online Micro LLC, also were indicted in the District of Columbia on 32 counts, charged with conspiracy, violating IEEPA, making or causing false statements to the United States and obstruction of justice.

They were arrested on a criminal complaint in California on April 7. If convicted, both men face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and $1 million fine for each of the IEEPA counts, five years for each false statement and 20 years for each obstruction of justice count.

The charges stemmed from a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the Shih criminal complaint, Commerce Department agents conducted an outreach visit to Mr. Shih’s business in New York in 2006 where they met Mr. Shih and told him about U.S. laws governing the export of goods from the United States to other countries, particularly embargoed countries like Iran. In April 2010, ICE agents seized hundreds of laptop computers that originated from Sunrise and were destined for Dubai, with the purchasers located in Iran.

ICE agents arrested one of the company’s agents, who pleaded guilty in December 2010 and began cooperating with the government. In interviews with agents, the affidavit said the cooperating witness said he and his company in Dubai had purchased millions of dollars worth of laptops from Mr. Shih in recent years for shipment to Iran, averaging $700,000 worth of computers each month.

The affidavit said agents also obtained documents showing that more than 1,000 computers had been shipped by Mr. Shih’s company to Dubai and later to Iran between April 9, 2010, and May 28, 2010.

An affidavit filed in support of the complaint against Mr. Habibion and Mr. Motamedian said a company in Dubai purchased millions of dollars worth of laptop computers from Online Micro, which later were shipped to Iran.

According to the affidavit, the agent for the Dubai company, who was arrested, pleaded guilty and began cooperating with the government, told federal agents that Mr. Habibion and Mr. Motamedian sold $300,000 worth of computers to the Dubai company each month and that they “fully understood that the computers were destined for Iran.”

In December 2010, the affidavit said the cooperating witness met with Mr. Habibion and Mr. Motamedian, during which the two owners instructed the witness to make fake invoices to conceal that Iran was the destination of the shipments and to indicate that the end-users were in Dubai. In addition, the affidavit said that during a Jan. 5 meeting, Mr. Habibion told the cooperating witness to lie to federal agents about conducting business in Iran.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Asuncion and T. Patrick Martin from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for 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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