Taiwanese jailed in US for illegal exports to Iran

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 - Page 1

A US federal court on Wednesday sentenced a 35-year-old Taiwanese woman to two years in a federal prison for helping procure sensitive technology for Iran in defiance of a trade embargo against the country.

On July 20, Susan Yeh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transaction Regulations (ITR) by using her companies in Taiwan and Hong Kong to illegally broker the export of thousands of electronic parts to Iran, the target of US sanctions over its sponsorship of terrorism and a suspected nuclear weapons program.

Yeh, who also goes by the name Susan Yip, has been in custody in the US since May after she entered the country on a US visa.

A seven-count indictment unveiled in a federal court in San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday said that between Oct. 9, 2007, and June 15 last year, Yeh, working with Mehrdad “Frank” Foomanie of Iran and Merdad Ansari of the United Arab Emirates, obtained or attempted to obtain more than 105,000 parts valued at more than US$2.6 million from companies worldwide, involving more than 1,250 transactions. Of those, 599 were transactions with 63 US companies, from which the trio obtained or attempted to obtain parts without notifying them that the end user was Iran, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas said in a press release.

US Attorney Robert Pitman said Foomanie arranged to ship the items to Iran through companies in Iran, Hong Kong and China. For his part, Ansari shipped cargo purchased by Yeh and Foomanie using his company, Gulf Gate Sea Cargo LLC, located in Dubai.

Among other things, the ITR prohibits the exportation, re-exportation, sale or supply, directly or indirectly, to Iran or the government of Iran of any goods, technology, or services from the US or by a US person.

In her guilty plea, Yeh admitted using her companies in Taiwan — Hivocal Technology Co (聲威網際科技股份有限公司), Enrich Ever Technologies Co Ltd (英銳科技有限公司) and Kuang-Su Co — and in Hong Kong — Infinity Wise Technology, Well Smart (HK) Technology, Pinky Trading Co Ltd and Wise Smart (HK) Electronics Ltd — to carry out the scheme.

The New Taipei City (新北市)-based Hivocal specializes in voice encryption devices. Taoyuan-based Enrich Ever is a full-service export management company supporting the global market for radar and communications at microwave frequencies, while Infinity Wise describes itself as having the most comprehensive inventory of off-the-shelf microwave and radio frequency (RF) components, military components, ICs, transistors, capacitors, diodes, resistors, RF equipment and spectrum analyzers.

According to the San Antonio Express News, the trio procured or attempted to procure underwater locator beacons, military-grade crystal oscillators, test cells for electromagnetic radiation measurement, broadband high-range signal amplifiers, RF network design and spectrum management software, as well as other military-grade equipment for use in rugged conditions.

Yeh, who faces four to five years’ imprisonment, had her sentence reduced because of her cooperation with the investigation. After completing her 24 months in jail, she will be returned to Taiwan.

“I had no intention to hurt anyone,” Yeh said after the ruling. “I feel sorry and regretful for this situation today.”

Foomanie and Ansari, who face various charges of conspiracy, remain at large.