Washington, D.C.–A U.K. man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in the District of Columbia to violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.
At the same time, an indictment was unsealed charging four individuals with the same offense, as well as related offenses.
According to his plea, Saber Fakih, 46, of the United Kingdom, conspired with Bader Fakih, 41, of Canada, Altaf Faquih, 70, of the United Arab Emirates, and Alireza Taghavi, 46, of Iran, to export and attempt to export an Industrial Microwave System (IMS) and counter-drone system from the United States to Iran, without first obtaining the requisite license from the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Saber Fakih pleaded guilty to count two of the indictment.
“Fakih and his co-conspirators attempted to evade U.S. sanctions and obtain highly sensitive pieces of equipment for Iran from unwitting U.S. suppliers,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “In doing so, Fakih jeopardized not only U.S. national security, but the national security of any other nation Iran decides to target. The Department of Justice can and will act to disrupt and prosecute such criminal conduct.”
“This indictment and guilty plea demonstrate the United States’ commitment to preventing U.S. technology with military applications from falling into the hands of the Iranian government, and it demonstrates the effective results generated by the partnership between the Justice Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves for the District of Columbia.
In addition, a related indictment was unsealed in the District of Columbia charging Iranian national Jalal Rohollahnejad, 44, with smuggling, wire fraud, and related offenses arising from the same scheme. Rohollahnejad was previously added to the Department of Commerce’s, Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List in March 2020, for acting contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests by procuring goods on behalf of a Specially Designated National.
According to the indictments, in 2017 and 2018, the co-conspirators attempted to export to Iran items that had potential civil and military uses. The potential military uses of the IMS (with some modification) include high-power microwave-based directed-energy weapon systems. The counter-drone system, which has both commercial and military uses, can be used to stop, identify, redirect, land, or take total control of a target unmanned aerial vehicle.
The indictments allege that Rohollahnejad and Taghavi hold themselves out as representatives of Rayan Roshd Asfzar, which has been linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
According to court documents, Taghavi informed Saber Fakih that he could not purchase the IMS because he is an Iranian national. Saber Fakih then arranged the purchase of the IMS on Taghavi’s and Rohollahnejad’s behalf, knowing it was ultimately destined for Iran.
Rohollahnejad caused the equivalent of $450,000 to be sent from Iran to the United Arab Emirates, where Faquih picked it up and converted it from Emirati currency to U.S. dollars. Faquih then transferred the money to Bader Fakih in Canada via three separate wire transfers. Bader Fakih then transferred the money to the U.S. company for the purchase of the IMS.
In addition to the IMS, Saber Fakih and Bader Fakih conspired to purchase two counter-drone systems worth nearly $1 million on behalf of Taghavi.
Saber Fakih faces up to 20 years of incarceration and/or a fine of $1 million for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.