Iranian National and His Company Charged in Plot Involving Export of Military Antennas from the United States
Amin Ravan, a citizen of Iran, and his Iran-based company, IC Market Iran (IMI), have been charged in an indictment unsealed today with conspiracy to defraud the United States, smuggling, and violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) in connection with the unlawful export of 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong.
The indictment was 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 the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Stephanie Douglas, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch; and Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary for Industry and Security at the Commerce Department.
According to the indictment, which was returned under seal by a grand jury in the District of Columbia on Nov. 16, 2011, Ravan was based in Iran and, at various times, acted as an agent of IMI in Iran and an agent of Corezing International, Pte, Ltd, a company based in Singapore that also maintained offices in Hong Kong and China.
On Oct. 10, 2012, Ravan was arrested by authorities in Malaysia in connection with a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. The United States is seeking to extradite him from Malaysia to stand trial in the District of Columbia. If convicted of the charges against him, Ravan faces a potential 20 years in prison for the AECA violation, 10 years in prison for the smuggling charge and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge.
According to the indictment, in late 2006 and early 2007, Ravan attempted to procure for shipment to Iran export-controlled antennas made by a company in Massachusetts, through an intermediary in Iran. The antennas sought by Ravan were cavity-backed spiral antennas suitable for airborne or shipboard direction finding systems or radar warning receiver applications, as well as biconical antennas that are suitable for airborne and shipboard environments, including in several military aircraft.
After this first attempt was unsuccessful, Ravan joined with two co-conspirators at Corezing in Singapore so that Corezing would contact the Massachusetts company and obtain the antennas on behalf of Ravan for shipment to Iran. When Corezing was unable to purchase the export-controlled antennas from the Massachusetts firm, Corezing then contacted another individual in the United States who was ultimately able to obtain these items from the Massachusetts firm by slightly altering the frequency range of the antennas to avoid detection by the company’s export compliance officer.
In March 2007, Ravan and the co-conspirators at Corezing agreed on a purchase price of $86,750 for 50 cavity-backed antennas from the United States and discussed structuring payment from Ravan to his Corezing co-conspirators in a manner that would avoid transactional delays caused by the Iran embargo. Ultimately, between July and September 2007, a total of 50 cavity-backed spiral antennas and five biconical antennas were exported from the United States to Corezing in Singapore and Hong Kong.
According to the indictment, no party to these transactions -- including Ravan or IMI -- ever applied for or received a license from the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to export any of these antennas from the United States to Singapore or Hong Kong.
Two of Ravan’s co-conspirators, Lim Kow Seng (aka Eric Lim) and Hia Soo Gan Benson (aka Benson Hia), principals of Corezing, have been charged in a separate indictment in the District of Columbia in connection with this particular transaction involving the export of military antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong. The two Corezing principals were arrested in Singapore last year and the United States is seeking their extradition.
This investigation was jointly conducted by ICE agents in Boston and Los Angeles; FBI agents and analysts in Minneapolis; and Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement agents and analysts in Chicago and Boston. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, and U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Richard S. Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.