Sun, Jun 28, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Businessman pleads guilty to transshipping

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

A Taiwanese businessman has pleaded guilty in San Antonio, Texas, to charges of violating trade embargoes and sanctions by sending computer parts that could be used in military systems to Iran.

Kunlin Hsieh, a 44-year-old sales manager for JunBon Enterprises Co Ltd, faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in September.

He was specifically charged with conspiracy to violate the US’ International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transaction Regulations.

Prosecutors said that Hsieh transshipped sensitive printed circuit boards to an intermediary country to disguise their ultimate destination of Iran.

The court was told that Hsieh and Iranian national Mehrdad Foomanie — who has not been apprehended — shipped the boards from 2007 to 2012.

It is not known if any of the items were transshipped through Taiwan.

The boards can be used in military and civilian applications, in missile guidance systems, secure tactical radio communications and military radar networks.

It has been reported that US officials are increasingly worried that overseas companies and middlemen are helping Iran illicitly obtain crucial components from US suppliers in violation of US export controls and international sanctions.

“The biggest concern about something being shipped to a country we have an embargo with is it will be used, converted or altered, to hurt our soldiers or interests overseas or our country itself,” said Jerry Robinette, a former US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent-in-charge in San Antonio, Texas.

This is the second time a Taiwanese citizen has pleaded guilty in San Antonio to transshipping dual-use technology to Iran.

Taiwanese businesswoman Susan Yip was charged in 2010 with helping Foomanie — the same person involved in the recent case — send sensitive components with military applications to Iran.

According to court records, Yip and Foomanie bought or attempted to buy more than 105,000 parts valued at about US$2.6 million from companies worldwide, including JunBon Enterprises.

Yip and Foomanie were said to have conducted 599 transactions with 63 US companies for parts without notifying them that the items were being shipped to Iran.

“I had no intention to hurt anyone,” Yip, 35 at the time, told the court.

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