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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

2 Dallas-area businessmen charged in plot to illegally export $12 million worth of computers to Iran

Defendants allegedly shipped computers to Dubai, concealing that they were ultimately destined for Iran

DALLAS — Two corporate owners/operators of Signal Microsystems in Addison, Texas, a company that sold computers domestically and internationally, were arrested Thursday by members of the North Texas Counterproliferation Task Force on an indictment alleging that they illegally shipped computer equipment to Iran through Dubai.

Borna Faizy, aka "Brad," and Touraj Ghavidel, aka "Brent Dell," made their initial appearances March 7 and were released on bond. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

This indictment was announced by Sarah R. Saldaña, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and Diego Rodriguez, special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas Division. This investigation is being conducted by members of the North Texas Counterproliferation Task Force, which includes the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Commerce, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Dallas earlier this week. It alleges that from 2005 to January 2012, Faizy, 42, of Frisco, Texas, and Ghavidel, 44, of Plano, Texas, conspired together and with others to export computers and computer equipment from the United States to Iran. Such exports violate the prohibitions imposed upon Iran by the United States Government, without first obtaining the required authorizations or licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

As part of their conspiracy, the indictment alleges that Faizy and Ghavidel acquired computers from U.S. companies to supply to end-users in Iran and concealed from the United States that the computers were destined for Iran. Faizy and Ghavidel allegedly evaded regulations, prohibitions and licensing requirements of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR), which prohibit, among other things, the export, re-export, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States to Iran, without prior authorization from the Secretary of the Treasury. These regulations further prohibit the unauthorized export of goods from the United States to a third country if the goods are intended or destined for Iran.

Faizy and Ghavidel allegedly actively recruited Iranian customers by marketing their computer business to business owners and individuals in Iran, and, in 2008 or 2009, attended a computer trade show, known as "GITEX," in Dubai to recruit Iranian customers. The defendants allegedly used freight-forwarding companies in Dubai to ship the equipment to Iran and communicated with co-conspirators using fictitious names and coded language to obscure the true identities and locations of the ultimate consignees and end-users. They also created invoices and export forms that falsely identified the ultimate consignees of the shipments as parties in Dubai.

Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to illegally export to Iran, nine substantive counts charging illegal export and attempted export of goods to Iran, and one count of making false statements to a federal agency. Upon conviction, the conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Each of the substantive counts carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison; and each of the false statement counts carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. In addition, upon conviction, each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Mark Penley, Gary C. Tromblay and Katherine Miller of the Northern District of Texas, and Trial Attorney David Recker of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.