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Feds: Schuylkill County firm attempted to smuggle machinery to Iran

Published On: Apr 23 2014 01:55:25 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2014 06:34:06 PM CDT

Local business accused of smuggling to Iran

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a Schuylkill County firm and its chief officer with conspiracy to evade export reporting requirements and attempting to smuggle a lathe machine to Iran in violation of U.S. export regulations.

Hetran Inc., an engineering and manufacturing plant in Orwigsburg, and its chief executive officer, Helmut Oertmann, were charged Wednesday, according to a release from the Department of Justice.

According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, Hetran allegedly manufactured a horizontal lathe, valued at more than $800,000 and weighing in excess of 50,000 pounds, for shipment to Iran without obtaining a required federal license. The machine is used in the production of high grade steel or bright steel, a product used in the manufacture of aircraft and automobile parts.

Federal officials said three Iranians and two Iranian firms are also connected to the criminal scheme: Mujahid Ali, Khosrow Kasraei, Reza Ghoreishi, FIMCO FZE, and Crescent International Trade and Services FZE.

Also charged was Suniel Malhotra, an Indian national and overseas sales representative for Hetran Inc.

On or about June 2009, Hetran was allegedly contacted by representatives of FIMCO, an Iranian company with offices in Iran and the United Arab Emirates, and Crescent International, an affiliated company based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, officials said.

FIMCO allegedly wanted to purchase the machine. During negotiations, it became apparent that the machine was intended for shipment to Iran. American companies are forbidden to ship “dual use” items (such as the lathe) to Iran without first obtaining a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce, officials said.

Aware that it was unlikely that such a license would be granted, Hetran, Helmut Oertmann and other co-conspirators agreed to falsely state on the shipping documents that the end-user of the lathe was Crescent International in Dubai, according to officials.

On June 17, 2012, Hetran allegedly caused the lathe to be shipped to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, fraudulently listingCrescent International in Dubai as the end-user, knowing that the shipment was ultimately being sent to Iran in violation of federal law.

Hetran is charged with conspiring to violate the export laws of the United States, and is subject to a sentence of up to $1 million.

Helmut Oertmann, charged with attempting to smuggle goods from the United States to Iran, faces a potential penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 5 years supervised release.

The Iranian and Indian defendants are charged with conspiring to violate and with attempting to violate the export laws of the United States, each carrying potential penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 5 years supervised release for the individual defendants and a $1 million fine for each corporate defendant.