tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018
  • Home
Business News

Tampa man guilty of exporting to Iran, violating embargo

TAMPA - A 57-year-old former city of Tampa engineer who resold computers from his home faces the forfeiture of $10 million to the U.S. government and additional penalties for illegally exporting merchandise to Iran. Mohammad Reza "Ray" Hajian, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 18 in U.S. District Court in Tampa. Hajian shipped computer equipment from the United States to Iran through the United Arab Emirates to make it appear he was not violating the U.S. embargo with Iran, court documents said. Hajian faces up to five years in prison on one count of conspiracy to illegally export to Iran, according to his plea agreement.
In addition, three companies Hajian operated must forfeit $10 million, which includes proceeds from the sales along with computer equipment and software intended for export that U.S. Customs officials seized. The count against RH International LLC, Nexiant LLC, and P&P Computers for conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transaction Regulations carries a maximum fine of $1 million and special assessments, according to court documents. The U.S. Attorney's Office would not speculate on prospects for the recovery of the money from Hajian. Hajian's attorney, James E. Felman of the Tampa firm of Kynes, Markman & Felman, declined comment. Sales of U.S. goods and services to Iran are banned by law without special authorization, and the U.S. government has been aggressively pursuing violations. The Department of Justice issued a report earlier this month outlining more than 280 export enforcement cases to countries, including Iran, China, Mexico and Canada. More than 60 of the cases involved sales to Iran of merchandise ranging from fighter jet parts and military electronics and improvised explosive device components to computer equipment and valves for gas and oil pipelines. Court documents indicate computer equipment Hajian resold through the three companies included Hitachi Data Systems products. The documents did not show any sales to either the Iranian government or military. Hajian's case was sealed on May 2 and unsealed on July 12. He entered a guilty plea Wednesday. The U.S. Attorney's office said Hajian conspired to export equipment without the required U.S. license from as early as 2003 through the autumn of 2011. According to court documents, on one of the shipments in 2009, Hajian emailed a co-conspirator a proposal to sell Hitachi Data Systems equipment for delivery to Iran through the United Arab Emirates. In May 2009, an employee in a business in the United Arab Emirates emailed Hajian with wire transfers receipts totaling $1 million, payment — at least in part — for the computer equipment. Hajian then sent an email to an unnamed co-conspirator in Iran that the sale was for $128,315. In June 2009, Hajian made a shipment to the United Arab Emirates, "knowing that this shipment was destined for Iran and also caused the value of the shipment … to be significantly understated on export documentation," court documents said. In August 2009, Hajian traveled to Iran to meet with the co-conspirator. Afterward, he provided a document to Hitachi and an unnamed Florida company from which he bought equipment that contained paperwork, which Hajian knew indicated a false user of the equipment, according to court documents.

[email protected] (813) 259-7817

Weather Center