Virginia Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Conspiring to Violate Iranian Sanctions

July 25, 2023

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Related Country: 

  • Panama
  • United Arab Emirates

Behrouz Mokhtari, 72, of McLean, Virginia, was sentenced today to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran by conspiring to engage in prohibited business activities on behalf of persons and entities in Iran. In addition, Mokhtari was ordered to forfeit approximately $2,862,598 in proceeds derived from his criminal activity as well as a residence he purchased in Campbell, California, for over $1.5 million using such proceeds.

Mokhtari pleaded guilty earlier this year in the District of Maryland to two counts of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economics Power ACT (IEEPA). According to court documents, Mokhtari engaged in a conspiracy lasting from at least March 2018 until at least September 2020 in which he conducted numerous business activities on behalf of Iranian entities without first obtaining the required licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In a separate conspiracy lasting from about February 2013 until at least June 2017, Mokhtari and a number of Iranian nationals agreed to conduct illicit shipments of petrochemical products to and from Iran­, utilizing his front company, East & West Shipping Inc., in Panama to do so.

Mokhtari held management positions and/or maintained ownership control of numerous businesses in Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), collectively referred to as “the FSR Network.” Using the FSR Network, he and his co-conspirators illegally provided services to Iranian entities such as the refinement and transport of petrochemical products. Mokhtari and his co-conspirators used FSR Network bank accounts in the UAE, including Bitubiz FZE, to process these U.S. dollar transactions.

Mokhtari admitted that he knew that, as a U.S. citizen, engaging in business with Iranian entities without first obtaining a license or permission from OFAC is prohibited. He further knew that it was illegal to engage in transactions intended to evade Iranian sanctions, or to engage in transactions related to goods and services of Iranian origin or export.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI Baltimore Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen O. Gavin for the District of Maryland prosecuted the case, with valuable assistance provided by the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.