WASHINGTON – Markos Baghdasarian, the president of Delfin Group USA, was arrested on Saturday, May 19, 2012, at the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, just prior to boarding an international flight to the United Arab Emirates. Baghdasarian was charged by criminal complaint, issued in the District of South Carolina, with exporting goods from the United States to Iran without the required U.S. Department of the Treasury licenses and with making false statements on official government documents. If convicted of these charges, Baghdasarian could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Baghdasarian made his first appearance before a magistrate judge in the Northern District of Georgia earlier today.
The arrest was announced by Lisa O. Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; William N. Nettles, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina; John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and David W. Mills, Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Baghdasarian served as president of Delfin Group USA, which is a Russian-owned producer of synthetic motor oils, located in North Charleston, S.C. From as early as June 13, 2010, until Oct. 12, 2011, Baghdasarian is alleged to have engaged in prohibited transactions with customers in Iran, including Pars Oil, which is an oil company owned by the government of Iran. U.S. persons and companies are prohibited from engaging in commercial transactions involving Iran unless authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury.
As further detailed in the criminal complaint affidavit, in August 2011, Baghdasarian exported aviation engine oils and polymer valued at $850,000 to Iran. Baghdasarian is alleged to have concealed that Iranian customers were the true recipients of the shipment by falsely asserting in an official document that a business entity in the United Arab Emirates was the ultimate consignee for the goods.
This case was the product of an extensive investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ryan Fayhee of the Counterespionage Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alston Badger of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division.
Charges set forth in a criminal complaint are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.