Exporter Sentenced to Prison for Shipping Heavy Equipment to Iran in Violation of U.S. Sanctions

January 18, 2024

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ATLANTA - Jalal Hajavi has been sentenced for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, smuggling goods from the U.S., unlawfully exporting and reexporting goods from the U.S. to Iran without a license, and unlawfully engaging in transactions and dealings based on his participation in a scheme to export unlawfully heavy equipment from the U.S. to Iran by routing the shipments though the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”).

“Hajavi’s conduct was particularly egregious because he was previously informed on at least two occasions that his conduct was prohibited,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.  “Instead of heeding the warnings, he continued to divert U.S. goods to Iran. Trade sanctions against Iran comprise a critical component of U.S. foreign policy designed to keep our country and citizens safe.  Criminal actors like Hajavi, who seek to profit by evading these prohibitions and jeopardize our national security, will be prosecuted.”

“Mr. Hajavi illegally shipped industrial equipment to the Iranian regime, smuggled restricted goods through the UAE to Iran, and caused a shipping company to submit false information to the U.S. government. He has been held to account for his crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “As this case shows, the Justice Department remains committed to enforcing U.S. sanctions and export control laws to deny Iran the commodities that fuel its malign activities abroad and threaten our nation’s security.”

“This sentencing is the result of a highly successful joint investigative effort with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia that disrupted an illicit Iranian procurement scheme,” said John Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Export Enforcement’s Miami Field Office. “OEE is fully committed to protecting national security by denying U.S. commodities to U.S. sanctioned countries.”

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges, and other information presented in court: Jalal Hajavi and a co-conspirator located in Iran conspired to evade U.S. sanctions by exporting U.S. heavy machinery through the UAE to Iran without first obtaining the required licenses from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). Hajavi, through his company JSH Heavy Equipment, LLC, located heavy equipment for sale in the U.S., such as bobcats and wheel loaders, and sent information about his findings to the co-conspirator in Iran. Hajavi purchased the items from U.S. sellers and used freight forwarding companies to ship the heavy equipment from the U.S. to the UAE, where his Iranian co-conspirator diverted the machinery to Iran in circumvention of the U.S. export license requirement.

In addition to evading OFAC licensing requirements, Hajavi concealed his activities with the co-conspirator by causing false information to be entered into the Automated Export System (“AES”), a U.S. government database containing information about exports from the U.S. Hajavi falsely claimed that the items were destined for his supposed UAE customers, which typically were general trading companies located in free trade zones in the UAE, but in reality, the items were destined for Iran.

At one point, Hajavi met with a Special Agent from the Bureau of Industry and Security who informed Hajavi about the U.S. sanctions against Iran, including the prohibition to transship U.S. goods through third countries to Iran. Undeterred, Hajavi continued his unlawful conduct.

One of the items that Hajavi purchased and unlawfully caused to be shipped was an Ingersoll Rand Blasthole Drill, which is a type of heavy machinery used in construction to drill holes in the ground usually filled with controlled charges. Hajavi purchased the drill from a U.S. company and, as part of a sham transaction, purportedly sold the drill to a UAE company. Hajavi hired a U.S. freight forwarder to arrange the drill’s export from the U.S. to the UAE During the shipping process, the freight forwarder submitted information provided by Hajavi to AES about the shipment. Hajavi falsely told the freight forwarder that the UAE company was the ultimate consignee and provided the false ultimate destination of the UAE, when Hajavi knew that the Iranian co-conspirator was the true buyer and that Iran was the ultimate delivery destination. The Iranian co-conspirator subsequently shipped the drill from the UAE to Iran.

Jalal Hajavi, 60, of Sterling, Virginia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash to two years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was convicted by a jury on September 11, 2023.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement conducted the investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation provided assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracia M. King and Trial Attorney Emma Dinan Ellenrieder of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case.