AN IRISH trading company and three of its officers have been charged with buying helicopter engines and other aircraft parts from American suppliers and illegally exporting them to Iran.
According to a 25-count indictment made public in Washington yesterday, Sligo-based Mac Aviation shipped some of the parts to an Iranian military firm the US government believes to be “owned or controlled by entities involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme”.
The indictment names Mac Aviation’s owner Tom McGuinn (72); his son Sean (40), the company’s sales/procurement director and Sean Byrne, its commercial manager. Each of the three is charged with two counts of conspiracy, 19 counts of violating US laws restricting exports to Iran, four counts of false statements, and forfeiture allegations. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 10-20 years in prison for each of the export counts, 5-20 years in prison for each of the conspiracy counts, and five years in prison for each of the false statement counts.
A spokesman for the US justice department said US authorities would work with their Irish law enforcement counterparts to have the three men arrested and extradited to face trial.
Prosecutors allege that, between August 2005 and July 2008, Mac Aviation, which is based in Drumcliffe, Co Sligo, sought orders in Iran for US-made aircraft engines and parts and then requested the components from US-based companies, including Rolls Royce in Indiana. The indictment says the Irish company purchased 17 helicopter engines from Rolls Royce for $4.27 million on behalf of an Iranian company.
The charges claim the Irish company concealed the ultimate purchaser’s identity from Rolls Royce and had the parts shipped to third countries, including Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, before sending them on to Iran.
“At no time did the defendants, Mac Aviation, Tom McGuinn, Sean Byrne, or Sean McGuinn, apply for, receive, or possess a license or authorisation from the Office of Foreign Assets Control to export goods, technology, or services, of any description, to Iran,” the indictment says.
The indictment quotes extensively from e-mails allegedly sent by Mac Aviation to customers in Iran requesting payment and stressing the risk to the Irish company if US authorities discovered the components’ true destination.
Yesterday’s indictment follows the arrest in San Francisco last week of Iranian businessman Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad, who was charged with illegally shipping US-made helicopter engines and aerial cameras to Iran.