Canadian charged in U.S. over alleged Iran export and money laundering scheme

Cdn charged in U.S. over alleged exports to Iran

A Canadian man has been charged in the United States with conspiring to send equipment used to test missile systems to Iran.

Court documents show Ghobad Ghasempour, who was born in Iran, was arrested last week in Washington State following a federal investigation that spanned several years.

A charging document filed with the court alleges Ghasempour was the mastermind behind a scheme to help his father’s friends in Iran launder money and illegally import goods into the country.

The document, which includes an affidavit from a U.S. Homeland Security special agent, alleges Ghasempour worked with two other men to route restricted items through China and into Iran.

It says the scheme culminated with plans to ship a table used to calibrate military-grade navigation devices, including missile technology, which would contravene American laws.

It’s alleged the setup began in 2011 and involved another man in China as well as one in Iran. The two other men have not been charged at this point and the document does not say whether any steps to do so are underway.

The special agent alleged in the document that Ghasempour created front companies to shuffle money and products between countries and left their day-to-day operations to the Chinese man.

The man in Iran is alleged to have arranged deliveries and money laundering for an Iranian government engineering company and other government agencies, according to the document.

It allegedly began after Ghasempour contacted his Chinese partner in 2012 saying they could make money helping his father’s friend, who ran a paper factory in Iran and was having trouble importing paper from Brazil due to trade sanctions, the document says.

The arrangement allegedly involved using Iranian oil money to pay for paper supplies in order to circumvent restrictions related to moving money out of Iran.

Eventually, Ghasempour started co-ordinating other purchases, the document says.

“Ghasempour initiated, planned and directed the scheme, in addition to registering websites and email accounts for some of the front companies he established,” according to the affidavit, which did not have a hometown for Ghasempour.

U.S. Homeland Security was alerted after a shipment of a thin-film measuring system was seized by authorities in the Netherlands, prompting the agency to investigate one of the companies created by Ghasempour, the document says.

American sanctions on Iran were eased last year after the Iranian government agreed to curtail its nuclear program, but the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on the country recently after it held a ballistic missile test.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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