Bloomberg News

California Man Pleads Guilty to Exporting Computers to Iran

February 17, 2012

(Updates with plea in second paragraph.)

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A California man pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme to illegally export millions of dollars’ worth of computers to Iran through Dubai, U.S. prosecutors said.

Massoud Habibion, 49, co-founder of Costa Mesa, California- based Online Micro LLC, and the company each pleaded guilty today in Washington to conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to defraud the U.S., the Justice Department said in a statement.

Mohsen Motamedian, 44, a co-owner of the company who is also known as “Max Motamedian” and “Max Ehsan,” pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, prosecutors said.

Habibion, also known as “Matt Habibion” and “Matt Habi,” conspired to export U.S.-origin computers to Iran through Dubai without first obtaining required licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, prosecutors said.

Online Micro bought 1,000 computers from Dell Inc. in May 2007 for about $500,000, according to the U.S. After receiving service calls from individuals in Iran, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell suspended Online Micro from placing further orders, prosecutors said.

From November 2009 through December 2010, Online Micro conspired with a firm based in Dubai and Tehran to export computer-related goods to Iran from the U.S. During the conspiracy, Online Micro sold shipments valued at more than $4.9 million, prosecutors said.

Fake Invoices

The company falsely identified the goods’ destination to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told a government cooperator to lie to U.S. authorities about the shipments, and had workers make up fake invoices, prosecutors said.

Habibion faces as long as five years in prison and a $1 million fine at sentencing, set for May 16. Motamedian faces as long as 20 years in prison.

Habibion and his company agreed to forfeit $1.9 million, prosecutors said. Motamedian will forfeit $50,000 to settle a charge of making a false statement to federal law enforcement agents, the U.S. said.

The case is U.S. v. Habibion, 11-cr-00118, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

--Editor: Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Thomas in New York at ithomas15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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