June 16, 2020

DOJ announces guilty plea for Iranian business owner accused of sanctions violations

On June 16, 2020, the US Department of Justice announced that Iranian citizen Seyed Sajjad Shahidian pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the District of Minnesota, for his efforts to facilitate the unlawful purchase of US products in violation of US sanctions against Iran.  According to the DOJ, Shahidian was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Payment24, an internet-based financial services company, that operated solely to assist Iranian clients with the purchase and export of computer servers, software and software licenses from US-based businesses.  According to the indictment, the Payment24 website instructed clients on how to circumvent American sanctions, avoid restrictions on foreign websites, and for a fee, offered a package that included a PayPal account, a fraudulent “ID card and address receipt,” a remote IP address from the United Arab Emirates, and a gift card for PayPal verification purposes.  The alleged transactions were processed using payment processing accounts established from fraudulent passports and falsified residency documentation that utilized the identities and personally identifiable information of other people, and according to the Payment24 website, brought millions of dollars of foreign currency into Iran.

Shahidian, who was indicted in December of 2018, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the US, following his recent extradition to the US from London in May of 2020.  He is currently scheduled for sentencing in October of 2020.

DOJ Press ReleaseShahidian Indictment (2018)