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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

Trio charged in conspiracy to evade US sanctions against Iran

HSI probe uncovers multimillion dollar export scheme

SAN DIEGO — A father, his son and an unrelated third man were charged in federal court Thursday with conspiring to evade U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Hassan Rafiee and Idin Rafiee, both of San Diego, and Majid Nouri, of Katy, Texas, were arraigned on an indictment unsealed in district court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major. If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ("IEEPA"), and a series of Presidential Executive Orders, the U.S. has imposed economic sanctions against Iran. With limited exceptions, the sanctions generally prohibit U.S. persons from exporting, selling and supplying goods, technology or services to Iran, or facilitating such transactions.

According to the indictment, the Rafiees collaborated with Nouri while operating two companies – Pasha International, aka Surnyx, based in San Diego, and Pasha Tak, based in Iran. The defendants allegedly used these companies to carry out a conspiracy to evade the trade sanctions against Iran. Specifically, the indictment claims the defendants unlawfully procured more than $8 million in goods – primarily cooling equipment – for customers in Iran.

All three defendants were taken into custody by HSI special agents last month. The Rafiees have each been released on a $100,000 bond, subject to home detention and GPS monitoring. Their next court appearance is scheduled for March 7 before the Honorable Janis L. Sammartino. Nouri is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court Feb. 11.