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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 19, 2019

Iranian Export Company Executive Pleads Guilty to Violating U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

ALBANY, NEW YORK - Mahin Mojtahedzadeh, age 74, and a citizen of Iran, pled guilty today to conspiring to unlawfully export gas turbine parts from the United States to Iran.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers; United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Kevin Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Jonathan Carson, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office.

Mojtahedzadeh pled guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.  She admitted that she was the President and Managing Director of ETCO-FZC (“ETCO”), an export company with an office in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.  ETCO is a supplier of spare and replacement turbine parts for power generation companies in the Middle East, including Iran.

Mojtahedzadeh admitted that from 2013 through 2017, she worked with companies in Canada and Germany to violate and evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, by having these companies first acquire more than $3 million dollars’ worth of turbine parts from two distributors in Saratoga County, New York. 

When the U.S. parts arrived in Canada and Germany, respectively, these companies and Mojtahedzadeh then arranged for the parts to be re-shipped to ETCO’s customers in Iran.  At all times, U.S. law prohibited the export and re-export of U.S.-origin turbine parts to Iran without a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which neither Mojtahedzadeh nor her co-conspirators possessed.

“By supplying Iran with millions of dollars’ worth of illegally exported turbine machinery, the defendant provided equipment that is critically important for Iran’s infrastructure,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “This sort of sanctions violation allows the Iranian government to withstand the pressure of U.S. sanctions – pressure that is intended to end Iran’s malign behavior.  We will continue to hold to account those who aid Iran in evading the United States’ comprehensive embargo.”

United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith stated: “Mahin Mojtahedzadeh worked for years to illegally acquire gas turbine parts for power plants in Iran.  Thanks to thorough inter-agency collaboration by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement, the defendant and her co-conspirators are being held accountable for circumventing economic sanctions that protect the national security of the United States.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge James N. Hendricks stated: “The proliferation of sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran remains a clear threat to our national security.  The FBI, along with our interagency partners, will continue to identify, investigate, and eliminate proliferation efforts aimed at circumventing our export control laws and economic sanctions to illegally obtain sensitive technologies.”              

HSI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly stated: “HSI's export enforcement initiatives safeguard national security and protect our interests across the world.  The defendant’s admission of willful attempts to thwart these efforts is inexcusable and her guilty plea is an example of the significant repercussions for such actions.”

Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson, of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, stated: “We will fully and aggressively enforce our nation’s restrictions on exports to Iran.  Controls on exports to Iran help apply maximum pressure on Iran to end its promotion of instability and terrorism worldwide. The Office of Export Enforcement will continue to leverage our unique authorities to pursue violators wherever they are, worldwide. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to achieve this goal.”

Mojtahedzadeh faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $1 million, when she is sentenced on November 12, 2019 by United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

Two of Mojtahedzadeh’s co-conspirators have previously pled guilty.

Olaf Tepper, age 52, and a citizen of Germany, pled guilty to conspiring to violate IEEPA.  On August 3, 2018, Judge D’Agostino sentenced him to 24 months in prison, and to pay a $5,000 fine. Tepper was the founder and Managing Director of Energy Republic GmbH (“Energy Republic”), based in Cologne, Germany, which re-exported U.S.-origin turbine parts to Iran, including as part of a conspiracy with Mojtahedzadeh.

Mojtaba Biria, age 68, and a citizen of Germany, also pled guilty to conspiring to violate IEEPA, and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 14, 2019.  Biria was Energy Republic’s Technical Managing Director. 

These cases are the result of a joint investigation by the FBI, HSI and the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement, and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rick Belliss and Michael Barnett, with assistance from Trial Attorney Scott A. Claffee of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Counterintelligence & Export Control Section.

Topic(s): 
Counterintelligence and Export Control
National Security
Updated July 19, 2019