A Canadian man has been charged in the United States for conspiring to send missile systems testing equipment to Iran.
Ghobad Ghasempour, who was born in Iran, was arrested in Washington State last week, in following a federal investigation which began in 2011.
According to court documents, including an affidavit from a U.S. Homeland Security special agent, Ghasempour was the mastermind behind the scheme to illegally import goods into Iran despite sanctions being in place.
The plan would also help his father’s friends in Iran to launder money.
Ghasempour worked with two men to smuggle restricted items, including a table which is used to calibrate military-grade navigation devices, through China to Iran, in violation of American law.
The other men involved, one of whom lives in China, and one of whom lives in Iran, have not been charged yet and the court papers do not indicate whether or not they will (or indeed can) be charged.
Ghasempour created shell corporations in order to shuffle money and products between the countries but left the day-to-day running to his Chinese partner.
The Iranian man is believed to arranged deliveries and money laundering for companies linked to the Iranian Regime, including an engineering company, and government agencies.
The scheme is believed to have started in 2012 when Ghasempour contacted the man in China about a family friend of Ghasempour’s who was suffering from the trade embargoes.
The friend ran a paper factory in Iran and was having trouble importing paper from Brazil.
The deal allegedly involved using Iranian oil money to pay for paper supplies; thereby circumventing restrictions relating to moving money out of Iran.
The document states that following the success of that con, Ghasempour began to co-ordinate other purchases
The affidavit read: “Ghasempour initiated, planned and directed the scheme, in addition to registering websites and email accounts for some of the front companies he established.”
Homeland Security was alerted after a shipment of a thin-film measuring system was seized by Dutch authorities, prompting an investigation of one of the companies created by Ghasempour.
In the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal between the US, the UK, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran, American sanctions on Iran were eased somewhat, in order to obtain an end to Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.
However, following breaches of the deal, including two nuclear missiles tests in early 2017, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran.