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Iranian National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to
Commit Visa Fraud in Connection with a Visas-for-Sale
Scheme at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WASHINGTON An Iranian national has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud before the Honorable Ricardo M. Urbina in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today.

Shahram Shajirat, a citizen of Iran, was indicted in January 2004 along with his wife and co-conspirator, Soraya Marghi, in connection with a visas-for-sale ring operated out of the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in the summer of 1999. Through this scheme, at least 25 Iranian men, women and children purchased U.S. non-immigrant visas from Shajirat and Marghi for travel to the United States without undergoing the required security protocols. As part of his plea of guilty, Shajirat will cooperate fully with U.S. authorities to identify each of the visa recipients who illegally received non-immigrant visas.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Judge Urbina set a sentencing date for April 12, 2007.

Marghi, who has dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud in connection with the same illegal scheme before Judge Urbina on October 20, 2005. Marghi has cooperated with U.S. authorities.

The case is being prosecuted by Matthew C. Solomon and William J. Corcoran of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, headed by Acting Chief Edward C. Nucci. The case is being investigated by the Visa Fraud Branch of the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Department of State.