U.K. Citizen Sentenced to Prison for Attempting to Export U.S. Technology to Iran

February 1, 2024

WASHINGTON – Saber Fakih, 48, of the United Kingdom, was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison for violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.

The announcement was issued by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves; Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Dugan of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement; FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski, of the Baltimore Field Office; and FBI Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division; and Homeland Security and Investigation’s Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of HSI’s Baltimore Field Office. 

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ordered Saber Fakih to serve three years of supervised release.

According to his plea agreement, Saber Fakih conspired with Bader Fakih, 43, of Canada, Altaf Faquih, 72, of the United Arab Emirates, and Alireza Taghavi, 48, of Iran, to export and attempt to export an Industrial Microwave System (IMS) and counter-drone system from the United States to Iran, without first obtaining the requisite license from the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Saber Fakih’s co-conspirators held themselves out as procurement agents of Rayan Roshd, which has since been sanctioned by the U.S. Government for its procurement activities related to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). 

Another co-conspirator, Iranian national Jalal Rohollahnejad, 46, has also been charged with smuggling, wire fraud and related offenses arising from the same scheme. Rohollahnejad previously was added to the Department of Commerce’s, Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List in March 2020, for acting contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests by procuring goods on behalf of a Specially Designated National (SDN).

According to the government’s evidence, in 2017 and 2018, Fakih and his co-conspirators attempted to export to Iran items that had potential civil and military uses. Potential military uses of the industrial microwave system (IMS) (with some modification) include high-power microwave-based Directed-Energy Weapon systems. The counter-drone system, which has both commercial and military uses, can be used to stop, identify, redirect, land or take total control of a target unmanned aerial vehicle.

Saber Fakih admitted in his statement of offense that he was the primary liaison between the Iranian purchaser and the U.S.-based seller of the IMS. He placed a bid with the Massachusetts vendor, coordinated an inspection of the machine, and generally corresponded with the vendor on Taghavi’s behalf, knowing it was ultimately destined for Iran.

Rohollahnejad caused the equivalent of $450,000 to be sent from Iran to the UAE, where Altaf Faquih picked it up and converted it from Emirati currency to U.S. dollars. Faquih then transferred the money to Bader Fakih in Canada via three separate wire transfers. Bader Fakih then transferred the money to the U.S. company for the purchase of the IMS.

In addition to the IMS, Saber Fakih and Bader Fakih conspired to purchase two counter-drone systems worth nearly $1 million from a Maryland-based company on behalf of Taghavi.

Saber Fakih was arrested in the United Kingdom pursuant to a U.S. Extradition Request on or about February 10, 2021. On January 25, 2022, he entered a plea of guilty to count two of the indictment in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, HSI’s Baltimore Field Office, and the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterespionage and Export Control Section.