December 4, 2019

False certification of compliance with Iran sanctions results in $45 million settlement for Virginia defense contractor

Unitrans International Inc., a defense contracting company headquartered in Virginia, has entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice, and agreed to pay a combined settlement amount of $31.5 million.  According to the NPA, in 2012 the US Defense Logistics Agency awarded a contract to Anham FZCO, a United Arab Emirates company associated with Unitrans, to provide material and logistical support to US troops in Afghanistan.  The contract required that Anham certify its compliance with all executive orders, proclamations and statutes that prohibit US persons and companies from transshipping through Iran.  Despite this, according to the DOJ, materials transported pursuant to the contract with Anham crossed Iran.  The DOJ claims high level officers of both Unitrans and Anham knew that the contract shipments were transiting Iran, and took no action to stop them.  Moreover, according to the factual statement stipulated in the NPA, the CEO of Anham, who was a partial owner of Unitrans, stated in an email to the DLA that “At no time did Anham acquire any goods in, or from, Iran.”  

In separate criminal actions, the DOJ has entered into non-prosecution agreements with three individuals implicated in the conduct.

In a related civil matter involving Unitrans, the company has agreed to pay $27 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations arising out of Unitrans’ knowingly and falsely certifying its compliance with US sanctions against Iran.  The civil action was brought by a third party under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.

DOJ press release