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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
01/26/2009

Iranian national pleads guilty to conspiring to export military aircraft parts to Iran

MIAMI-An Iranian national pleaded guilty in District Court here today to charges of conspiring to illegally export military and commercial aircraft parts to Iran following a U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service investigation.

According to the indictment, Hassan Saied Keshari , a naturalized United States citizen from Iran, and his corporation, Kesh Air International, conspired to export goods and defense articles from the United States to the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of the embargo imposed upon that country by the United States, the International Economic Powers Act, and the Arms Export Control Act.

According to documents filed with the court during the plea hearing, Keshari, through his Novato, California corporation, Kesh Air International, purchased aircraft parts on behalf of purchasers in Iran and exported them to his native country by way of freight forwarders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The parts were purchased from defendant Traian Bujduveanu, a supplier in Broward County, who operated through his local business, Orion Aviation Corporation.

Among the aircraft parts illegally exported to Iran were parts designed exclusively for the F-14 fighter jet, the Cobra AH-1 attack helicopter, and the CH-53A military helicopter. All of these aircraft are part of the Iranian military fleet, while the F-14 is known to be used exclusively by the Iranian military.

The parts supplied by Keshari are manufactured in the United States, designed exclusively for military use, and have been designated by the United States Department of State as "defense articles" on the United States Munitions List, thus requiring registration and licensing with the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. Neither Keshari nor his co-defendants are registered or had the required licenses to ship defense articles to Iran.

"This investigation is another fine example of how effective these law enforcement partnerships can be at ensuring that the sale and distribution of defense articles is done lawfully," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami. "This case will send a message to those individuals who attempt to profit by illegally supplying improper defense articles to other countries. ICE will continue to aggressively pursue those who violate U.S. export laws."

Keshari faces a maximum statutory term of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Kesh Air International faces a statutory maximum fine of $500,000.

Keshari has been in federal custody since his arrest in June 2008 and will remain in custody pending his sentencing scheduled for April 8, 2009. Co-defendant Bujduveanu also remains in federal custody awaiting trial, which is scheduled for May 2009.