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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

Arlington company pleads guilty in illegal military equipment sale case

ALEXANDRIA, Va - Taipan Enterprises Ltd., based in Arlington, Va., pled guilty Thursday to illegally brokering the sale of arms to Yemen, Chile, Libya and Vietnam without registering and obtaining a license to sell items listed on the United States Munitions List, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies.

Taipan Enterprises was immediately sentenced to pay a $15,000 fine.

According to the statement of facts submitted with the plea agreement, the president and secretary of Taipan Enterprises, Ioannis Papathanassiou, admitted he contacted a number of defense manufacturers to broker United States Munition List items, which included combat armored vehicles, small arms components, night vision equipment, ground radars and other surveillance systems. Papathanassiou admitted that from at least June 2006 he attempted to broker the sale of this equipment to the Chilean military as well as end users in Libya, Vietnam and Yemen.

Papathanassiou was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Dulles International Airport on Sept. 1, 2007, where he falsely told the CBP agent he had been attempting to sell farm equipment to Yemen nationals while in Brazil. No Munitions List items had yet been exported as a result of these illegal brokering activities by the time federal law enforcement executed a search warrant on Sept. 4, 2009, at locations tied to the business.

The Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations require that anyone seeking to engage in the business of brokering United States Munitions List items must register and obtain a license. Representing Taipan Enterprises, Papathanassiou admitted to the court that the company had willfully failed to register or obtain a license as required.

This case was investigated by special agents from the Department of State's Office of the Inspector General and ICE's Office of Investigations in Washington, D.C.