Nevada Woman Charged with Exporting Goods to Iran in violation of sanctions
A Nevada resident has been arrested and indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that she knowingly exported electronics and other goods to Iran in violation of US sanctions. The indictment alleges that Tina Chen purchased goods from US companies through her business, Top Zone Inc., and shipped them to Iran. The products were ultimately meant for Zanjan University, one of the largest universities in Iran. The products shipped included bandpass filters, photomultipliers, and wireless transmitters and receivers.
Chen made her initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe, who scheduled a jury trial for July 26. If convicted, Chen faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Exports to Iran are governed by the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, which is administered by the Department of the Treasury. Further, more specific Iranian sanctions are listed on the Non-SDN Iranian Sanctions Act (NS-ISA), which is also administered by Treasury. To trade with designated Iranian individuals and entities, US persons must apply for and receive a license through the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).
Chen is alleged to have bypassed OFAC licensure by sending goods through intermediates in Hong Kong. Goods that were ultimately destined for Iran were marked as intended for Hong Kong and Turkish customers. Sending goods through intermediaries is one of the numerous ways that exporters seek to skirt OFAC regulations and sanctions. Other notable cases include ships that turn off their GPS and travel to sanctioned countries, such as North Korea.