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Firms allegedly broke U.S. embargoes to Iran

A Dutch aviation services company, its owner and two other companies have been charged with exporting parachutes and aircraft parts to Iran in violation of U.S. embargoes, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Dutch aviation services company, its owner and two other companies have been charged with exporting parachutes and aircraft parts to Iran in violation of U.S. embargoes, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Authorities allege the defendants bought the items from companies in Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, Kansas and New Hampshire. The charges also include making false statements on export control documents.

“Keeping America’s critical technology from falling into the hands of state sponsors of terror has never been more important,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said.

The defendants named in the recently unsealed complaint filed in Washington are Aviation Services International B.V., an aircraft parts supply company based in the Netherlands, and the company’s owner, Robert Kraaipoel.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Kraaipoel, a Dutch citizen who is believed to be living in the Netherlands. Dutch customs officials are also investigating Kraaipoel’s business practices, U.S. officials said.

The company has not yet appeared in court, and no defense attorney was listed in court documents.

The other defendants were the Dutch companies Delta Logistics L.V. and TPC B.V., both owned by Kraaipoel’s son, prosecutors said. The son has not been charged.

Calls to all three companies Tuesday night were not answered. A telephone call to a listing for someone with the same name as Kraaipoel was not answered.

Iran seeks to bolster fighter fleet
The government is focusing more on preventing sensitive military technology from getting into “the wrong hands,” Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.

“We believe this case reflected a rather large procurement effort by Iran,” Boyd said.

Federal officials have said Iran is aggressively seeking components from the retired U.S. F-14 “Tomcat” fleet so it can maintain its own F-14 fighter jets. But Tuesday’s complaint did not involve F-14 parts, Boyd said.

Last year, Aviation Services obtained more than 290 items, including parachutes, aircraft parts, aircraft paints, and industrial chemicals, from the United States and sent them to Iran, according to the complaint.

Dutch customs officials told U.S. officials that many of the American goods were sent to Iranian government agencies, procurement agencies or companies doing business in Iran.

According to the complaint, Aviation Services and Kraaipoel used entities in the Netherlands, Cyprus and Dubai that Kraaipoel owned or controlled to pose as end users for U.S. goods that were being re-exported to Iran.

Prosecutors allege that Aviation Services and Kraaipoel made false statements in November 2005 and January 2006 when they certified that U.S.-origin aviation communications equipment with potential applications in unmanned aerial vehicles was being sent to the Poland Border Control Agency. The equipment was actually being sent to Iran, authorities said.

The complaint also details an attempted shipment in January to Iran of U.S. aircraft parts, including airspeed indicators and navigation equipment.

Exports of U.S. commodities to Iran banned
All exports to Iran of U.S.-origin commodities are prohibited without authorization in the form of an export license from the U.S. Treasury Department. It is also unlawful to ship products with U.S. origins to a third country and then re-export them to Iran without the necessary authorization.

The prohibitions have been in place since 1995. The maximum penalty for violating the trade embargo on Iran is 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine or both, and, for corporations, a $500,000 fine. The maximum penalty for filing false documents is five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine or both.

Aviation Services bought the goods from Hamilton Sunstrand in Connecticut; Sun Aviation in Lawrence, Kan.; Honeywell in Phoenix; DTC Inc. in Nashua, N.H.; and Gables Engineering in Coral Gables, Fla.; authorities said.

The American companies were not charged with any wrongdoing.