SAN FRANCISCO – Sadr Emad-Vaez, Pouran Aazad, and Hassan Ali Moshir-Fatemi made their initial appearances in district court today after being indicted on April 19, 2018, for violating export control laws under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse; Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers; Department of Commerce, Special Agent in Charge Joseph P. Whitehead; Department of Homeland Security, Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin; and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.
The defendants were charged in a three-count indictment with the following crimes: conspiracy to violate the IEEPA, in violation of 50 U.S.C. §§ 1701-1705; a substantive violation of the IEEPA, 50 U.S.C. § 1705; and smuggling, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 554(a) and 2. The indictment alleges the defendants engaged in transactions involving the illegal export of goods and services to Iran and financial transactions designed to evade the Iranian Transactions Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). Under the IEEPA and the ITSR, it is illegal for a United States citizen to, among other things, export, reexport, sell, or supply, directly or indirectly, any goods, technology, or services to Iran or the government of Iran, without a license granted by the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control, or to engage in financial transactions supporting such activities.
According to the indictment, the defendants, all naturalized U.S. citizens who lived variously in Tehran and the Northern District of California, participated in the operation of the Ghare Sabz Company, aka GHS Technology, a large manufacturing corporation in Tehran, Iran. Emad-Vaez allegedly has described himself as the “Managing Director,” Aazad as the “Chief Financial Officer,” and Moshir-Fatemi as the “Engineering Manager” of the corporation. The defendants are alleged to have acquired and engaged in attempts to acquire components from manufacturers all over the world (including the U.S.), in order to funnel them to GHS in Tehran. They also allegedly used elaborate systems of international wire transfers—including through prohibited financial institutions—to fund the effort.
Defendants Emad-Vaez and Aazad were arrested at their residence in Los Altos Hills on April 7, 2018, and were brought before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte for their initial appearance on April 9, 2018. Defendant Moshir-Fatemi was arrested near San Francisco Airport on April 11, 2018, and similarly was brought before Magistrate Laporte. All three defendants have been released on secured bonds. The defendants’ next scheduled appearance is at 10:00 a.m. on July 11, 2018, before the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Judge.
The indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted of violating the IEEPA, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $1,000,000. If convicted of smuggling, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250.000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Philip J. Kearney and and the Counter Espionage Section of the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The charges are the result of an investigation by agents of the Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.