Businessman Jailed for Iran Missile Guidance Exports

March 14, 2008

In a hearing at Croydon Crown Court last December, Salashoor (56) admitted shipping hi-tech navigation equipment, adaptable for missile guidance systems, to the Iranian Ministry of Defence.

The gyrocompasses, designed as standalone shipping navigation systems, contain accelerometers and gyros, which are classified as 'Dual-Use items' as they can be used for both civil and military applications.

Salashoor was also ordered to handover £432,970 after being made subject to a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Salashoor must pay the sum within six months or face a three year prison sentence in default.

In addition to pleading guilty to four offences of 'Being knowingly concerned in the exportation of goods Contrary to s68 (2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979,' Salashoor also pleaded guilty to one count of perverting the course of public justice, and three further counts relating to other illegal exports were ordered to lie on file.

Kevin Davis, Assistant Director of HMRC's Criminal Investigation Directorate, said: "This case demonstrates the commitment of HMRC in investigating and tracking down individuals trading in technology with a weapons application. The motivation for such crimes is profit with a complete disregard for law or international security. This is an excellent result for HMRC and our partners in Government and agencies overseas." The case was prosecuted on behalf of HMRC by The Revenue & Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO) which was created by Royal Assent on 07 April 2005 and is an independent prosecuting authority reporting directly to the Attorney General.

Matthew Wagstaff, Head of RCPO's Commercial Casework Division, said: "The international trade in technology with military applications gives rise to serious offences and the successful outcome in this case demonstrates that RCPO will not hesitate to prosecute such cases where they are referred to us."

Background to the investigation

In May 2006 Salashoor submitted an export licence rating enquiry to the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR). When he enquired about exporting eleven 'Gyrocompass' devices worth approximately £650,000 to Azerbaijahn he was told the export would require an export licence.

Salashoor chose not to apply for an export license, and instead diverted the goods to Malta, with instructions for onward-shipment to a company in Iran. That 'company' was later found to be the Iranian Ministry of Defence. The export was blocked by the Maltese, and all eleven devices were returned to the UK.

Despite this setback, Salashoor attempted to salvage part of the deal by finding a new customer in Norway. Two of the devices were sent to Norway, supposedly to be fitted to two ships berthed in Oslo. Investigators subsequently found the ships did not exist and the goods were covertly diverted to Iran from Norway.

When HMRC Investigators visited Salashoor he provided them with a disc containing copies of email correspondence and contracts with an Azeri Shipping company. The documents appeared to give an account of how Salashoor was deceived by a series of 'shady middlemen'. Email traffic appeared to show Salashoor being duped, and that he even attempted to stop the goods from leaving Malta once he heard about the Iranian deal. However, HMRC's Digital Forensic Investigators uncovered evidence from the disc that showed the documents were a cover-story created by Salashoor as part of an elaborate attempt to conceal his illegal activities.

Salashoor was arrested and interviewed, and by analysing his computers and business records, Investigators were able to piece together several other illegal exports. Recovered paperwork showed some of the orders being made by the Iranian Air-force & the Iranian Ministry of Defence.