Pakistani National Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Illegally Export Restricted Nuclear Materials to Pakistan

September 9, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - Nadeem Akhtar, age 46, of Silver Spring, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit export violations and to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to illegally export nuclear-related materials.

The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Rick Shimon of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement's Washington Field Office.

“The United States regulates the export of items that can be used in nuclear facilities, requiring a purchaser to truthfully disclose the end user,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Nadeem Akhtar conspired to violate export regulations by selling controlled items while misrepresenting what they were and to whom they would be sold.”

“U.S. businesses that produce regulated technology must remain vigilant about purchasers who misrepresent the intended use, especially as it relates to foreign transactions,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely. “We cannot let our guard down in keeping regulated technology from reaching those who are prohibited from acquiring it.”

“This conviction is the product of a vigorous, cooperative joint-agency investigation focused on denying and disrupting the illegal export of controlled nuclear technology destined for Pakistan,” said Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security. “We will continue to work aggressively to identify and apprehend willful proliferators, no matter where they operate, in order to guard against these types of national security threats.”

According to his plea agreement, Akhtar, a Pakistani national and lawful permanent resident of the U.S., owns Computer Communication USA (CC-USA). From October 2005 through March 11, 2010, Akhtar and his conspirators used CC-USA to obtain or attempt to obtain radiation detection devices, resins for coolant water purification, calibration and switching equipment, attenuators and surface refinishing abrasives for export to restricted entities in Pakistan. Due to their use in both commercial and military applications, a license would be required to export these items to an end-user of concern or if exported in support of a prohibited end-use, such as activities related to related to nuclear explosives, nuclear reactors, or the processing and production of nuclear-related materials. Other items that Akhtar unlawfully procured or exported, or attempted to procure or export, to restricted entities in Pakistan include mechanical and electrical valves, cranes and scissor lifts. The total worth of all of these items exceeds $400,000.

The restricted entities in Pakistan included organizations of concern to the U.S. government as acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. These restricted entities included: Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission; and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and its subordinate entities, such as the Chasma Nuclear Power Plant I in Kundian, Pakistan and the research reactor maintained by the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a constituent institution of the PAEC in Nilare, Pakistan, specializing in nuclear-related research and development. Exports of commodities to these organizations were prohibited absent the issuance of an export license.

Akhtar attempted to evade export regulations and licensing requirements by: undervaluing and falsely describing the items being exported; failing to reveal the true end-user by using third parties and/or real and fake business entities/locations in Pakistan, Dubai and the United States; using individuals in Illinois and California to procure items for him under false pretenses; shipping items to his residences in Maryland so it would appear as though his company was the actual purchaser/end-user of the items; and transhipping the items from the U.S. through the UAE.

Akhtar took direction from the owner of a trading company located in Karachi, Pakistan, who had business relationships with governmental entities in Pakistan. This individual would obtain orders for nuclear-related and other commodities from Pakistani government entities identified above, and then direct Akhtar as to what commodities to purchase in the United States for export to Pakistan, and the methods to be used to conceal the true nature, value and end-user of the items. Akhtar would then negotiate prices with manufacturers and suppliers of commodities sought in the U.S. and arrange for shipment of the commodities. Akhtar’s co-conspirators included individuals in Pakistan, Dubai, UAE and New York associated with the owner of the Pakistani trading company. The owner usually paid Akhtar a commission of five to seven and a half percent of the cost of each item Akhtar obtained for export from the U.S.

Akhtar faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and remains detained in federal custody. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled sentencing for January 6, 2012, at 9:30 a.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and the Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Christine Manuelian, who is prosecuting the case.

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