March 22, 2021

Ten Iranians charged in long-running sanctions evasion scheme

Ten Iranian nationals have been charged with US sanctions violations.  The complaint, unsealed on March 19, 2021, charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations, and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.  It alleges that the ten participated in a decades-long conspiracy to evade US sanctions on Iran, processing transactions valued at more than $300 million through 70 front companies in the US, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.  A $157 million forfeiture complaint was also filed. 

According to the complaint, the defendants manifested awareness of US sanctions throughout the conspiracy, discussing in emails the ongoing efforts by the US government to disrupt what they called “the international financial network” of Iran’s Supreme Leader, designed to conceal investments from international authorities as well as the Iranian people.  Several of the defendants are alleged to have been employed by Persepolis Financial Services Inc., a California-based company alleged to have facilitated the illegal transfer of funds on behalf of Iran.  Some of the defendants are alleged to have used a Hong Kong-based company to purchase two $25 million oil tankers for Iran, and to have defrauded financial institutions in the UAE and the US by making false statements and concealing transactions’ connections to Iran. 

Department of Justice Press Release