BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Laura Wang-Woodford, a U.S. citizen who served as a director of Monarch Aviation Pte, Ltd. ("Monarch"), a Singapore company that imported and exported military and commercial aircraft components for more than 20 years, pled guilty today in federal court in Brooklyn to conspiring to violate the U.S. trade embargo by exporting controlled aircraft components to Iran.
The guilty plea was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Matthew G. Olsen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Kevin Delli-Colli, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement, and John Torres, Acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Wang-Woodford was arrested on Dec. 23, 2007, at San Francisco International Airport after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong, and has remained incarcerated since then. She and her husband, Brian D. Woodford, a U.K. citizen who served as chairman and managing director of Monarch, were originally charged in a 20-count indictment returned in the Eastern District of New York on Jan. 15, 2003. Brian Woodford remains a fugitive. A superseding indictment charging Wang-Woodford with operating Jungda International Pte. Ltd ("Jungda"), a Singapore-based successor to Monarch, was returned on May 22, 2008.
According to the superseding indictment, between January 1998 and December 2007, the defendants exported controlled U.S. aircraft parts from the United States to Monarch and Jungda in Singapore and Malaysia and then re-exported those items to companies in Tehran, Iran, without obtaining the required U.S. government licenses. As part of the charged conspiracy, the defendants falsely listed Monarch and Jungda as the ultimate recipients of the parts on export documents filed with the U.S. government. The aircraft parts illegally exported to Iran include aircraft shields, shears, "o" rings, and switch assemblies. The superseding indictment further charged that the defendants arranged for the illegal export of U.S. military aircraft components, designed for use in Chinook military helicopters, to Monarch in Singapore.
At the time of her arrest in San Francisco, Wang-Woodford possessed catalogues from a Chinese company, the China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation ("CPMIEC"), containing advertisements for military technology and weaponry. The products advertised included surface-to-air missile systems and rocket launchers. CPMIEC has been sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control, based, in part, on CPMIEC’s history of selling military hardware to Iran. All United States persons and entities are prohibited from engaging in business with CPMIEC.
As a result of her guilty plea, Wang-Woodford faces a maximum sentence of five years incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, in conjunction with her guilty plea Wang-Woodford agreed to forfeit $500,000 to the United States Treasury Department.
"By illegally shipping U.S. military components to Iran, Laura Wang-Woodford pursued profits at the expense of the security of her country and her fellow citizens," said United States Attorney Campbell. "We will utilize all resources at our disposal to prevent the dangerous and illegal export of our military technology." Mr. Campbell thanked the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agencies responsible for conducting the government’s investigation.
"As today’s guilty plea demonstrates, those who provide American military technology to state sponsors of terror will be held accountable for their actions. Keeping sensitive weapons components and other restricted technology from falling into the wrong hands is a top priority for the Justice Department," said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Olsen.
"Ms. Woodford, through her company Monarch Aviation, was one of the largest diverters of U.S. origin aircraft parts to Iran," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Delli-Colli. "Her conviction and sentencing should amplify the U.S. Government’s resolve to combat illegal transshipment wherever it occurs."
"The illegal export of U.S. military technologies through deception poses a threat to the national security of the U.S. and to the men and women who serve in our armed forces, said Acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Torres. "Today’s guilty plea serves as an example of how ICE’s counter proliferation investigations and our federal law enforcement partners aggressively pursue those who violate U.S. arms control laws and ensure sensitive U.S. military equipment does not fall in the wrong hands, especially while our country is at war."
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel S. Silver, Cristina M. Posa, and Claire Kedeshian.