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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 30, 2020

Iranian Export Company Executive Sentenced for Violating U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

ALBANY, NEW YORK - Mahin Mojtahedzadeh, age 74, and a citizen of Iran, was sentenced today to time served (443 days in jail) for conspiring to unlawfully export gas turbine parts from the United States to Iran.

The announcement was made by 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, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office.

United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also ordered Mojtahedzadeh to pay a $5,000 fine.  Mojtahedzadeh had been in law enforcement custody since November 14, 2018 and will now be placed into immigration custody for the purposes of removal from the United States.

On July 19, 2019, she 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.

United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith stated: “This investigation struck a blow to Iranian efforts to obtain U.S. goods needed for Iran’s domestic energy production, and brought to justice three foreign nationals who conspired to circumvent economic sanctions that protect the national security of the United States.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge James N. Hendricks stated: “Anyone looking to evade sanctions and put our nation at risk should be on notice. The FBI, along with our interagency partners, will continue to vigorously investigate these crimes and ensure perpetrators, like Mahin Mojtahedzadeh, are brought to justice.”

Kevin Kelly, HSI Buffalo Special Agent in Charge, stated: “The illegal exportation of sensitive and restricted technology is a detriment to our national security.  HSI is committed to enforcing these laws and ensuring that safeguards are maintained.  The defendant’s admission of guilt and the sentence they received today is a clear example of the consequences awaiting those who engage in such actions.”

Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson, of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office 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.”

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

Olaf Tepper, 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, as part of a conspiracy with Mojtahedzadeh.

Mojtaba Biria, a citizen of Germany, also pled guilty to conspiring to violate IEEPA.  On August 14, 2019, Judge D’Agostino sentenced him to time served (approximately 21 months in jail).  Biria was Energy Republic’s Technical Managing Director. 

These cases are the result of a joint investigation by FBI, HSI and the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement, and were 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
Updated January 31, 2020