Feds: China and Iran Smuggling Ring Busted

Suspects allegedly sought to smuggle nuclear centrifuge components.

December 5, 2012, 6:17 PM

Dec. 5, 2012 — -- Four men, including two Iranians, were indicted Tuesday in federal court in New York for allegedly attempting to smuggle military helicopter parts and carbon fiber that can be used in nuclear centrifuges from the U.S. into China and Iran.

"The law prohibits the exportation of goods to Iran and certain goods to China," said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos in written comments. "Whether motivated by greed or otherwise, these defendants allegedly violated the law, including by arranging for the export of carbon fiber that can be used in uranium enrichment. The FBI takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure that strategically important goods and technology do not end up in the wrong hands."

"The embargo and export laws that all four of these defendants are alleged to have violated are critical to protecting the national security of the United States and its citizens," said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Carbon fiber in the wrong hands poses a serious threat to that security, and two of these defendants are charged with arranging its export to Iran, where it most assuredly had the potential to end up in the wrong hands. "

Three of the defendants in the alleged smuggling ring have been arrested, while a fourth remains at large. The men -- two Iranians, one Turk, and an Orange County, New York-based U.S citizen -- are all charged with conspiracy to export controlled items.

The carbon fiber material has a number of industrial uses, including aerospace engineering and the gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

One defendant, Hamid Reza Hasemi, a dual U.S and Iranian citizen who lived in Iran, allegedly attempted to purchase the material for his Tehran-based company. Beginning in 2007, he was allegedly assisted in his efforts by Murat Taskiran, a Turkish citizen and the managing director of a company in Turkey.

Taskiran, who remains at large, allegedly solicited the material from an Orange County broker, Peter Gromacki, and together with Gromacki and Hasemi attempted to circumvent U.S. laws against the export of carbon fiber, a controlled item, according to the federal indictments unsealed today.

Gromacki, according to his indictment, made "materially false, fictitious , and fraudulent statements and representations."

The government charged that Gromacki lied on a shipper's export declaration for the People's Republic of China (PRC). He is charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). In their indictment, Hasemi and Taskiran also are charged with conspiracy to violate the IEEPA.

The fourth defendant, Amir Abbas Tamimi, an Iranian citizen, is charged with conspiracy to violate the IEEPA and supply Iran with military helicopter components.

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