1 sentenced, 2 charged with helping Iran get military parts

Officials: Defendants violated the Iranian Trade Embargo, jeopardized U.S. national security

Published On: Oct 24 2012 05:49:36 PM CDT

A citizen of Taiwan was sentenced in a San Antonio courtroom Wednesday for helping Iran obtain military-sensitive parts, a violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo, the Department of Justice said.  

35-year-old Susan Yip, also known as Susan Yeh, a citizen of Taiwan, was sentenced to two years in federal prison, officials said.

A seven-count indictment unsealed Wednesday charged Yip, Mehrdad Foomanie, also known as Frank Foomanie, of Iran, and a third person, Merdad Ansari of the United Arab Emirates, with conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transaction Regulations, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, officials said.

U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said sending or helping to send goods in violation of the law subjects the country to potential national security risks.

“As we allege in court documents, the parts in this case had dual-use military and civilian capability. We will continue to be vigilant in detecting and prosecuting those who would jeopardize our security in this way,” said Pitman.

Foomanie and Ansari face up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to violate Iranian Trade Regulations, up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to launder money, and up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

On July 20, 2012, Yip pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transaction Regulations. By pleading guilty, Yip admitted that from October 9, 2007, to June 15, 2011, she acted as a broker and conduit for Foomanie to buy items in the United States and have them unlawfully shipped to Iran.

According to the indictment, Foomanie also bought or attempted to buy items in the United States and arranged to have them unlawfully shipped to Iran through his companies in Iran, Hong Kong and China.

The indictment also alleged that Ansari attempted to transship and transshipped cargo obtained from the United States by Yip and Foohmanie using Ansari’s company, Gulf Gate Sea Cargo L.L.C., located in Dubai.

In her guilty plea, Yip admitted to primarily using her companies in Taiwan and Hong Kong to carry out the fraudulent scheme, officials said.

From October 9, 2007, to June 15, 2011, the defendants obtained or attempted to obtain from companies worldwide over 105,000 parts valued at approximately $2,630,800 involving more than 1,250 transactions, officials said. The defendants conducted 599 transactions with 63 different U.S. companies where they obtained or attempted to obtain parts from U.S. companies without notifying the companies that the parts were being shipped to Iran or getting the required U.S. Government license to ship parts to Iran, according to the indictment.

Officials said at no time did Yip, Foomanie, or Ansari, individually or through any of their companies, apply for or receive either a required United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control license or Department of Commerce export license to ship any item to Iran.

“This investigation demonstrates the critical need for unwavering vigilance when our national security is at risk as threats can emerge from anywhere and from anyone, even in what appears to be legitimate commerce,” said Armando Fernandez, FBI Special Agent in Charge at the San Antonio Division.