FBI says Minnesota company duped in plot involving Iran, explosives
A Minnesota manufacturer was allegedly duped into supplying some 6,000 long-range radio frequency modules to clients in Singapore, who then illegally forwarded them to Iran, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said today.
"Five individuals and four of their companies have been indicted as part of a conspiracy to defraud the United States that allegedly caused thousands of radio frequency modules to be illegally exported from the United States to Iran, at least 16 of which were later found in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq. Some of the defendants are also charged in a fraud conspiracy involving exports of military antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong," the FBI said.
The indictment, issued in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. and unsealed today, did not identify the Minnesota company.
On Monday, authorities in Singapore arrested Yuh Lan Wong, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng and Soo Gan Benson Hia, all citizens of Singapore, pending a U.S. extradition request. The other defendant, Hossein Larijani, is a citizen and resident of Iran and remains free.
The charged defendants are Iranian national Larijani, 47, and his companies Paya Electronics Complex, based in Iran, and Opto Electronics Pte, Ltd., based in Singapore. Also charged is Wong, 39, an agent of Opto Electronics who was allegedly supervised by Larijani from Iran.
The indictment also charges NEL Electronics Pte. Ltd., a company in Singapore, along with NEL's owner and director, Nam, 37.
Finally, the indictment charges Corezing International Pte. Ltd., a company in Singapore that maintained offices in China, as well as Seng, 42, an agent of Corezing, and Hia, 44, a manager, director and agent of Corezing.
Wong, Nam, Seng and Hia allegedly conspired to defraud the United States by circumventing U.S. export controls relating to the 6,000 radio frequency modules, some of which were found in unexploded IEDs in Iraq, the FBI said in a statement. Seng and Hia are also accused of conspiring to defraud the United States relating to the shipment of military antennas from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong.
The radio frequency modules can be used in commercial applications such as wireless local area networks connecting printers and computers. The modules made in Minnesota include encryption capabilities and have a range allowing them to transmit data wirelessly as far as 40 miles when configured with a high-gain antenna, the FBI says. "These same modules also have potentially lethal applications.
Notably, during 2008 and 2009, coalition forces in Iraq recovered numerous modules made by the Minnesota firm that had been utilized as part of the remote detonation system for IEDs."
The indictment alleges that between June 2007 and February 2008, the defendants bought the modules from the Minnesota company and had them shipped to Singapore. Larjani then had Wong, his employee in Singapore, forward them to Iran in five shipments, it says.
The defendants allegedly told the Minnesota firm that Singapore was the final destination of the goods, and they filed misleading paperwork with the government indicating they'd be used in a Singapore telecommunications project, the FBI says.
Distributed by MCT Information Services