Firm Accused of Illegal Aircraft Exports to Iran

Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Irish trading company and three of its officers have been charged with illegally exporting helicopters and aircraft parts to Iran in violation of a U.S. embargo, the Justice Department said yesterday.

The charges allege that Mac Aviation bought 17 helicopter engines from Rolls-Royce's North American headquarters in Indiana for $4.27 million in July and exported them to Iran through companies in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. The engines allegedly went to the Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Co., which the State Department has linked to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missiles program.

Thomas McGuinn, 72, an Irish national and owner of Mac Aviation; his son Sean McGuinn, 40, the company's sales director; and Sean Byrne, its commercial manager, were charged with 19 counts of violating the embargo, the Justice Department said. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 to 20 years.

The men also were charged with conspiracy and making false statements.

The purchases were allegedly made on behalf Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad, a businessman from Tehran whom U.S. officials described as a key figure in Iran's vast network of businesses and front companies seeking Western technology for weapons including ballistic missiles and improvised explosive devices.

Khoshnevisrad was arrested March 14 in San Francisco and has been charged with illegally exporting and conspiracy to export U.S. goods to Iran, charges that carry up to 65 years in prison, the department said.

Mac Aviation also is accused of diverting aircraft parts to Iran Aircraft Industries and to a trading company in Dubai that appears to have sent them to Kish Island, Iran.

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