WASHINGTON – A Singapore man has been extradited to the U.S. to stand trial on charges stemming from his alleged role in a conspiracy to illegally export radio frequency modules to Iran, which were later found in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq.
Lim Yong Nam, aka Steven Lim, 42, was extradited from Indonesia to stand trial in the District of Columbia. The extradition was announced Monday by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin; U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia; Director Sarah Saldaña of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Executive Assistant Director Michael Steinbach of the FBI’s National Security Branch; and Under Secretary of Commerce Eric L. Hirschhorn.
Lim had been detained in Indonesia since October 2014 in connection with a U.S. request for extradition. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance Monday afternoon in federal court in the District of Columbia, where he was indicted June 23, 2010. Lim faces one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of smuggling, one count of illegal export of goods from the United States to Iran, one count of making false statements to the United States government and one count of making false statements to law enforcement.
“The indictment alleges that Lim conspired to defraud the United States and defeat our export controls by sending U.S.-origin components to Iran instead of their stated final destination of Singapore,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Several of those components ultimately ended up in unexploded improvised devices in Iraq. This case, including the successful extradition of Lim, demonstrates our efforts to vigorously pursue and bring to justice those who threaten our national security.”
“Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement here and abroad, Lim Yong Nam will now appear in an American courtroom to face charges involving the illegal export of sensitive technology,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “As alleged in the indictment, the parts at issue here wound up in Iran and then on the battlefields in Iraq. The extradition of this defendant demonstrates our commitment to aggressively investigating and prosecuting those who violate our export controls and threaten our nation’s security.”
“The illegal export of restricted U.S. technology is extremely harmful to our national security,” said Executive Assistant Director Steinbach of the FBI's National Security Branch. “In this case the technology had lethal applications and was used in improvised explosive devices in Iraq which endangered U.S. and coalition forces. This investigation was a coordinated effort by many agency partners and shows our determination to identify and bring to justice all those who steal sensitive technology.”
“The extradition of Lim Yong Nam highlights the significant cooperation of U.S. law enforcement agencies and our international partners to pursue and prosecute those who pose a threat to our national security, especially to U.S. service members overseas,” said Under Secretary Hirschhorn. “I commend the outstanding efforts of all of the agencies involved in the case.”
According to a superseding indictment that was returned against Lim and other defendants in September 2010, IEDs were the major source of American combat casualties in Iraq. The conspiracy alleged in the indictment involved radio frequency modules that have several commercial applications, including in wireless local area networks connecting printers and computers in office settings. These modules include encryption capabilities and have a range allowing them to transmit data wirelessly as far as 40 miles when configured with a high-gain antenna. These same modules also have potentially lethal applications. Notably, during 2008 and 2009, coalition forces in Iraq recovered numerous modules made by the Minnesota firm that had been utilized as part of the remote detonation system for IEDs.
The superseding indictment alleges that between June 2007 and February 2008, Lim and others caused 6,000 modules to be purchased and illegally exported from the Minnesota-based company through Singapore, and later to Iran, in five shipments, knowing that the export of U.S.-origin goods to Iran was a violation of U.S. law. In each transaction, Lim and others made misrepresentations and false statements to the Minnesota firm that Singapore was the final destination of the goods.
Similarly, according to the superseding indictment, Lim and others caused false documents to be filed with the U.S. government, in which they claimed that Singapore was the ultimate destination of the modules. At the time of these activities, Lim and others were allegedly communicating with one another about U.S. laws prohibiting the export of U.S.-origin goods to Iran. However, in November 2009, Lim told U.S. authorities that he had never participated in illicit exports to Iran, the superseding indictment alleges.
The superseding indictment alleges that several of the 6,000 modules the defendants routed from Minnesota to Iran were later discovered by coalition forces in Iraq, where the modules were being used as part of IED remote detonation systems. In May 2008, December 2008, April 2009 and July 2010, coalition forces found at least 16 of these modules in unexploded IEDs recovered in Iraq, the indictment alleges.
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.
This investigation was jointly conducted by special agents with ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston and Los Angeles; FBI agents in Minneapolis; and Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security agents in Chicago and Boston. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls; the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control; and the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, particularly the Justice Department Attaché in the Philippines, as well as the FBI and HSI Attachés in Singapore.
U.S. law enforcement authorities thanked the governments of Singapore and Indonesia for the substantial assistance they provided with the investigation.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari Redbord of the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Julie Edelstein of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.