Iranian National Extradited to the Western District of Texas for Illegally Exporting Military Sensitive Items from the U.S. to Iran


On March 14, 2020, 38-year-old Merdad Ansari, an Iranian citizen and a resident of the United Arab Emirates was extradited from Republic of Georgia and arrived Saturday evening in San Antonio to face federal charges in connection with a scheme to obtain military sensitive parts for Iran in violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo.

These parts had dual-use military and civilian capability and could be used in such systems as: nuclear weapons, missile guidance and development, secure tactical radio communications, offensive electronic warfare, military electronic countermeasures (radio jamming), and radar warning and surveillance systems.

“As alleged, the defendant helped Iran to develop its weapons programs by obtaining military parts in violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “We are grateful for the work our partners have done to ensure Ansari can be brought to justice.” 

“I am pleased that Mr. Ansari will face justice in an American courtroom.  I am grateful to the many law-enforcement partners who worked so diligently to make that happen,” stated U. S. Attorney John F. Bash for the Western District of Texas. 

“The FBI greatly appreciates the collaborative efforts and unwavering support from the Georgian Government and our federal partners. Together, over several years, we relentlessly pursued every lead to ensure that Ansari would eventually face the charges detailed in the indictment,” stated FBI San Antonio Division Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. “Investigating criminal violations of U.S. trade embargoes is one of the FBI’s highest priorities since this criminal activity affects the national security of the United States and our allies, especially the security of our troops abroad.”

“HSI will use all resources at its disposal to prevent sensitive technology from being illegally exported from the United States,” said Shane Folden, Special Agent in Charge, HSI San Antonio. “HSI commends all the agencies involved in this effort, their dedication and perseverance has brought this individual before the court to face justice.” 

Ansari, and his co-defendant Mehrdad Foomanie (aka Frank Foomanie) of Iran, are charged in a federal grand jury indictment returned in June 2012 with conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Foomanie remains a fugitive in this case. 

In October 2012, a third co-defendant, Susan Yip (aka Susan Yeh), a citizen of Taiwan, was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to violate the ITR by acting as a broker and conduit for Foomanie to buy items in the U.S. and have them unlawfully shipped to Iran. 

According to the indictment, Foomanie also bought or attempted to buy items in the U.S. and arranged to have them unlawfully shipped to Iran through his companies in Iran (Morvarid Shargh Co. Ltd.); in Hong Kong (Panda Semiconductor and Foang Tech Inc., aka Ofogh Electronics Co.); and, in China (Ninehead Bird Semiconductor).

The indictment also alleges that Ansari attempted to transship and transshipped cargo obtained from the U.S. by Yip and Foomanie using Ansari’s company, Gulf Gate Sea Cargo L.L.C., located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In her guilty plea, Yip admitted to primarily using her companies in Taiwan (Hivocal Technology Company, Ltd.; Enrich Ever Technologies Co., Ltd.; and, Kuang-Su Corporation) and in Hong Kong (Infinity Wise Technology; Well Smart (HK) Technology; Pinky Trading Co., Ltd.; and, Wise Smart (HK) Electronics Limited) to carry out the fraudulent scheme.

From Oct. 9, 2007, to June 15, 2011, the defendants obtained or attempted to obtain from companies worldwide over 105,000 parts valued at approximately $2,630,800 involving more than 1,250 transactions.

The defendants conducted 599 transactions with 63 different U.S. companies where they obtained or attempted to obtain parts from U.S. companies without notifying the U.S. companies these parts were being shipped to Iran or getting the required U.S. Government license to ship these parts to Iran.

At no time did Yip, Foomanie, or Ansari, individually or through any of their companies, ever apply for or receive either a required U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) license or Department of Commerce export license to ship any item listed in this Indictment to the Republic of Iran.

The Iranian Transactions Regulations, renamed the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations in October 2012, prohibit, among other things, the exportation, re-exportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, to Iran or the Government of Iran, of any goods, technology or services from the U.S. or by a U.S. person.

The embargo also prohibits any transaction by any U.S. person or within the U.S. that evades or avoids, or has the purpose of evading or avoiding, any prohibition set forth in the Executive Orders.

Upon conviction, Foomanie and Ansari faces up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to violate the ITR, up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to launder money and up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The extradition occurred with substantial assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the Government of Georgia. 

The announcement was made on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers,  U.S. Attorney John F. Bash for the Western District of Texas; FBI San Antonio Division Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Antonio Office Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden; Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Southwest Field Office Special Agent in Charge Michael Mentalvos; and, Special Agent in Charge Tracy Martin, U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Export Enforcement, Dallas Field Office.

FBI.gov (March, 2020) Iranian National Extradited to the Western District of Texas for Illegally Exporting Military Sensitive Items from the U.S. to Iran

Iranian National Charged with Bank Fraud and Lying to Federal Agents in Connection with a Scheme to Use the U.S. Financial System to Send More Than $115 Million to Iranian Individuals and Entities

Bahram Karimi was charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements in connection with his involvement in a joint project initiated by the Governments of Iran and Venezuela


The Department of Justice announced that Bahram Karimi was charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements in connection with his involvement in a joint project initiated by the Governments of Iran and Venezuela in which more than $115 million was illegally funneled through the U.S. financial system for the benefit of various Iranian individuals and entities. 

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan. 

“Karimi allegedly conspired in an infrastructure project initiated by the Governments of Iran and Venezuela,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “He then lied to banks about Iranian involvement and took advantage of the U.S. financial system to benefit Iranian parties.  The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who misuse our financial system in violation of U.S. sanctions.”

“As alleged, Bahram Karimi knowingly and willfully facilitated the circumventing of sanctions against Iran, and then lied about it to FBI agents,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York. “Karimi allegedly enabled the concealed transfer through U.S. banks of more than $100 million from a Venezuelan state-owned company to an Iranian construction firm, and when questioned, told the agents he didn’t know that was prohibited by the sanctions.”

“At the end of the day, these charges reflect the use of our financial system to generate U.S. dollars for Iranians and Iranian entities.  That’s why our government has robust sanctions in place against Iran and Iranian entities who seek to use the U.S. banking system for their own benefit,” said Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

As alleged in the Superseding Indictment and statements made in court filings and proceedings:

In August 2004, the Governments of Iran and Venezuela entered into a Cooperation Framework Agreement, whereby they agreed to cooperate in certain areas of common interest.  The following year, both governments supplemented the Cooperation Framework Agreement by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding regarding an infrastructure project in Venezuela (the “Project”), which was to involve the construction of thousands of housing units in Venezuela. 

The Project was led by Stratus Group, an Iranian conglomerate with international business operations in the construction, banking, and oil industries.  In December 2006, Stratus Group incorporated a company in Tehran, which was then known as the Iranian International Housing Corporation (IIHC). 

IIHC was responsible for construction for the Project. 

Thereafter, IIHC entered into a contract with a subsidiary of a Venezuelan state-owned energy company (the VE Company), which called for IIHC to build approximately 7,000 housing units in Venezuela in exchange for approximately $475,734,000.  Stratus Group created the Venezuela Project Executive Committee to oversee the execution of the Project.  Karimi was a member of the committee and was responsible for managing the Project in Venezuela.

In connection with his role on the Project, Karimi worked with others to defraud U.S. banks by concealing the role of Iranian parties in U.S. dollar payments sent through the U.S. banking system.  Specifically, between April 2011 and November 2013, the VE Company made approximately 15 payments to IIHC through two front companies, which were created to conceal the Iranian nexus to the payments, in violation of U.S. economic sanctions.  These 15 payments totaled approximately $115 million. 

In January 2020, Karimi was interviewed by, among other people, two FBI agents.  During that interview, Karimi falsely stated that, during the course of the Project, he believed that international sanctions against Iran did not apply to Iranian companies or persons.

Karimi, 53, of Canada, is charged with (1) conspiring to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; (2) bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and (3) making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the New York County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI.  Mr. Berman also thanked the New York County District Attorney’s Office for their ongoing assistance in this investigation.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jane Kim, Michael Krouse, and Stephanie Lake, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Garrett Lynch, Deputy Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Justice.gov (Jan. 31, 2020).  Iranian National Charged with Bank Fraud and Lying to Federal Agents

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