Massoud Habibion, 49, a U.S. citizen, Mohsen Motamedian, 44, a U.S. citizen, and their Costa Mesa, Calif., company, Online Micro LLC, were sentenced today in the District of Columbia in connection with a scheme to illegally export millions of dollars worth of computer-related goods from the United States to Iran through the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The sentences were announced by Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); David W. Mills, Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, Department of Commerce; and Adam Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Department of the Treasury.
U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle today sentenced Habibion to 13 months in prison for conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to defraud the United States. Judge Huvelle sentenced Motamedian to three years supervised release for obstruction of justice. Habibion and Motamedian pleaded guilty to these charges on Feb. 16, 2012.
Under the terms of their guilty pleas and related civil settlements with the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and OFAC, Habibion and his company have agreed to forfeiture of $1.9 million seized from Online Micro’s bank accounts by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) during the course of the investigation. In addition, Habibion and Online Micro are denied export privileges for 10 years, although the denial order will be suspended provided that neither Habibion nor Online Micro commit any export violations during the 10-year probationary period and comply with the terms of the criminal plea agreements and sentences. Motamedian separately agreed to a $50,000 monetary penalty to settle a civil charge that he solicited a false statement to federal law enforcement agents.
Habibion and Motamedian were arrested on a criminal complaint in California on April 7, 2011. The defendants and their company were later indicted on April 21, 2011.
Habibion and Online Micro willfully conspired with a company operating in Dubai, UAE, and Tehran, Iran, to procure U.S.-origin computers from the United States and export those computers from the United States to Iran through Dubai without first obtaining licenses or authorizations from OFAC.
In or around May 2007, Online Micro purchased 1,000 computer units from Dell Inc. for approximately $500,000. Later that year, Dell began receiving service calls concerning Dell computer units from individuals in Iran, and after conducting an internal investigation, suspended Online Micro from placing further orders with Dell.
Beginning around Nov. 9, 2009, and continuing through December 2010, Habibion and Online Micro conspired with a company operating in Dubai and Tehran, to procure U.S.-origin computer-related goods and export those goods to Iran via the UAE. During the scope of the conspiracy, Online Micro and Habibion sold to that company and exported from the United States numerous shipments of computer-related goods, worth a total of more than $4,904,962, with knowledge that the majority of those goods were destined for Iran.
Online Micro also caused Shipper's Export Declarations to be filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection falsely identifying the ultimate destination of the goods as the UAE. During the course of the investigation, Habibion and Motamedian told a government cooperator to lie to U.S. law enforcement officials about the transactions. Specifically, the defendants told the cooperator to lie about Iran being the true ultimate destination for the goods and counseled him to tell U.S. law enforcement agents that the computer-related goods remained in Dubai.
This investigation was conducted by the ICE-HSI offices in San Diego and Orange County, Calif. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement Los Angeles Field Office also assisted in the investigation.
Senior Attorney Adrienne Frazier from the U.S. Department of Commerce BIS and Assistant Director of Enforcement Michael Geffroy from OFAC handled the civil settlements for their agencies, respectively.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys T. Patrick Martin and Anthony Asuncion 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.