Saratoga County

Turbine parts illegally exported from Saratoga County to Iran

Iranian woman pleads guilty in federal court to violating U.S. sanctions

ALBANY — An Iranian woman pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to buying turbine parts from two Saratoga County-based distributors and exporting them to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Under federal guidelines, Mahin Mojtahedzadeh, age 74, faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million when sentenced Nov. 12 by U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York said Mojtahedzadeh had companies in Canada and Germany purchase more than $3 million worth of gas turbine components from the two local suppliers between 2013 and 2017, then shipped them to Iran via Canada and Germany.

Prosecutors would not identify the two Saratoga companies, nor say if those firms are themselves under investigation for potential violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.

Three federal agencies — the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Commerce — conducted the investigation of  Mojtahedzadeh, who was president and managing director of Dubai-based export company ETCO-FZC.

On June 25, agents from the same three agencies raided the offices of Turbine Services, Ltd. at 41 Old Gick Road in Wilton. The FBI would not tell reporters what it was looking for, but said the raid was connected with a federal investigation.

There also was no comment from Turbine Services, which on its website calls itself the largest full-line supplier for virtually all General Electric gas turbine models.

U.S. law prohibits the export and re-export of U.S.-origin turbine parts to Iran without a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, which neither Mojtahedzadeh nor her co-conspirators possessed, prosecutors said in a news release Friday.

“By supplying Iran with millions of dollars’ worth of illegally exported turbine machinery, the defendant provided equipment that is critically important for Iran’s infrastructure,” Assistant Attorney General Demers said in the news release. “This sort of sanctions violation allows the Iranian government to withstand the pressure of U.S. sanctions — pressure that is intended to end Iran’s malign behavior. We will continue to hold to account those who aid Iran in evading the United States’ comprehensive embargo.”

Prosecutors said Mojtahedzadeh has no connection to Saratoga County other than the purchase of turbine parts.

Two of her co-conspirators have previously pleaded guilty.

Olaf Tepper, 52, and Mojtaba Biria, 68, both German citizens, admitted conspiring to violate IEEPA. 

On Aug. 3, 2018, D’Agostino sentenced Tepper to 24 months in prison and fined him $5,000. Biria is to be sentenced Aug. 14.

Tepper founded and was managing director of Energy Republic GmbH in Germany. Biria was its technical managing director.

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