Canadian exporter sentenced in U.S. for breaching Iran embargo by secretly exporting oil and gas equipment

A man counts Iranian rials at a currency exchange shop, before the start of the U.S. sanctions on Tehran, in Basra, Iraq November 3, 2018.

A Toronto export manager for a Mississauga company has been sentenced to prison in the United States for illegally exporting gas turbine engine parts to Iran, in violation of long-standing U.S. embargo and trade sanctions.

Angelica O. Preti, 45, of Toronto, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Ohio.

Few details, however, are available — including details of the allegations against her or the date she was arrested — as the case is sealed by the court and remains “sensitive,” according to a Justice Department official.

“Preti made a calculated decision to harm the United States by supplying enemies abroad,” U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said in a written statement.

“Preti also attempted to cover up her crimes by directing the filing of false electronic export information, and attesting that the final destination of goods was not Iran. Preti also employed a number of additional methods to obscure the fact that Iran was the end-user for the shipments,” DeVillers said.

U.S. authorities said that during Preti’s time as export operations manager at UE Canada Inc., the freight company was involved with 47 shipments exported from the U.S. Of those shipments, 23 were traced as destined for Iran.

UE Canada is based in Mississauga, 5 kilometres west of Toronto Pearson Airport.

The company’s phone number listed on its website was not in service Tuesday. Requests for comment and information sent to two email addresses for the company went unanswered prior to deadline.

The company’s website was registered in 2000 and last updated last October. The phone number listed on the website’s registration was answered by an automated answering service in the name of UE Canada.

A message left on the phone for the head of the company, Martin Moin, also went unanswered prior to deadline. Moin’s LinkedIn page says he has been president of UE Canada since 1994, after attending Toronto’s George Brown College.

Preti was convicted of conspiring to violate the U.S. International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Iran has been subject to U.S. embargo and trade sanctions since 1979, initiated during the Iran hostage crisis when American diplomats and citizens were held hostage inside the U.S. embassy in Tehran. It was the first use of the U.S. government’s modernized version of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which was initially used during the First World War.

According to U.S. authorities and Preti’s LinkedIn page, Preti worked as the export operations manager at UE Canada, a Canadian forwarding and customs brokerage service provider with significant business in the U.S., including in Ohio.

Preti helped facilitate the shipment to Iran of U.S.-origin gas turbine engine parts, valve assemblies and connectors used for industrial pipelines in the gas and oil refinement industry, in deliberate violation of a U.S. embargo and trade sanctions, authorities said.

Her case is linked to the conviction and sentencing last year of an Ohio man, also for exporting gas and oil pipeline parts to Iran.

Behrooz Behroozian, 64 at the time, was sentenced to 20 months in prison. For more than a decade, he deliberately violated the embargo and trade sanctions against Iran, court found.

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Behroozian was born in Iran, went to the U.S. in 1976 and became a U.S. citizen in 1987. Authorities said he made $35,000 to $40,000 each year for his subterfuge.

“Behroozian profited financially by strengthening the economy of one of the world’s most infamous state sponsors of terrorism,” U.S. officials said at the time of his sentencing.

The precise connection between Behroozian and Preti is unknown, because his indictment and portions of his sentencing hearing also remains under seal.

Behroozian remains in prison. His motion for compassionate release from prison due to severe health risks from COVID-19 was recently denied.

National Post

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