US authorities have arrested the former president of Delfin Group USA, a Russian-owned producer of synthetic motor oils, who has been accused of using a company in the UAE to illegally re-export synthetic oil to Iran. US Federal prosecutors said Dr Markos Baghdasarian was arrested in Atlanta last weekend before boarding a flight to the UAE and […]
US authorities have arrested the former president of Delfin Group USA, a Russian-owned producer of synthetic motor oils, who has been accused of using a company in the UAE to illegally re-export synthetic oil to Iran.
US Federal prosecutors said Dr Markos Baghdasarian was arrested in Atlanta last weekend before boarding a flight to the UAE and have charged him with illegally exporting goods to Iran and lying to Federal agents about his trade practices.
The Federal authorities have accused the businessman of using a UAE-based partner to re-label shipments as ‘UAE Product’ to circumvent sanction restrictions on US exports to Iran.
According to US federal law, trade is prohibited to Iran without special permission from the government. Exporters and shippers from the US are required to file forms showing where the goods are going.
Agents acting on the behalf of the US government said that evidence compiled against Dr Baghdasarian includes emails from two unidentified business associates based in the Middle East. They claim that one of Dr Baghdasarian’s associates was an agent based in Iran and the representative of a UAE company that shipped Delfin products to Iran. Another associate is claimed to be an operator in the UAE.
In an affidavit, John Hardin, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, alleged that one of the unidentified businessmen said the materials would come Dubai but would be relabelled as ‘UAE product’.
According to Hardin, the other associate is claimed to write in an email that: “So u are safe Markos is safe.”
An article covering the story by the Associate Press also reported that: “Other communications discussed what product labels should look like, with one message including a fake address for a California company and a toll-free number that agents determined actually went to offices for Victoria’s Secret.”
Helfin said that Delfin USA tried to send engine lubricating oils worth $850,000 to an associate in the UAE, but the officials failed to get the US company to reveal the details of the export.
Agents placed electronic trackers to a further shipment of 11 containers bound for the UAE and found that one was traced to Iran.
One of the most serious allegations against Dr Baghdasarian is that he lied when question to the Federal authorities.
Baghdasarian reportedly told federal agents that one of the unidentified businessmen was a middle man for his company’s products but is accused of lying that he didn’t know that another associate was based in Iran. It is further alleged that he only revealed his knowledge of the associate after the US Department of Commerce suspended his Delphin USA’s trading privileges.
If found guilty Dr Baghdasarian could face up to 20 years in prison. An initial hearing was held in Georgia this week and under Federal law he could face extradition to South Carolina.
In response to the US Department of Justice publishing a press release on the matter Delfin Group USA made the following statement:
Delfin Group USA has been and continues to be fully cooperative with the United States in its ongoing investigation.
Dr. Markos Baghdasarian, the former President of Delfin Group USA, was placed on administrative leave by the company on Monday, May 14, 2012. Due to the confidential nature of the government’s investigation, Delfin Group USA will have no further comment on the matter at this time.
John Gordon has been appointed to serve as President of Delfin Group USA.