Feds: MN Co. Unknowingly Exported Bomb Parts to Iran
A Minnesota manufacturer was allegedly tricked into exporting radio control devices to Iran, some of which were found in explosive devices in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ didn't name the Minnesota company, but the Star Tribune identified it as Digi International, a Minnetonka-based manufacturer of networking products that wirelessly connect electronic devices. Digi hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing, and the DOJ indicated that the company didn't know its products were being shipped to Iran.
Five individuals-four Singapore citizens and one Iran citizen-and four of their companies were indicted for their alleged role in the conspiracy.
The indictment alleges that between June 2007 and February 2008, the defendants-Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng, Hia Soo Gan Benson, and Hossein Larijani-bought 6,000 radio frequency modules from the Minnesota company and had them delivered in five shipments to Singapore. In each transaction, the defendants allegedly told the company that Singapore was the final destination for the goods, when in fact they were being routed from there to Iran.
Having known that it is illegal to export U.S.-origin goods to Iran, the defendants allegedly filed false documents with the U.S. government, claiming the modules were for a telecommunications project in Singapore.
At least 16 of the 6,000 modules were later discovered by coalition forces in Iraq, where they were being used as part of explosive devices, the indictment says.
The Minnesota-made radio frequency modules have several commercial applications, including in wireless local area networks connecting printers and computers in office settings. The modules-which have the capability to transmit data wirelessly as far as 40 miles-can also be used to remotely detonate explosive devices, according to the DOJ.
The five defendants are being charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, smuggling, illegal export of goods from the United States to Iran, illegal export of defense articles from the United States, false statements, and obstruction of justice.
Authorities in Singapore on Monday arrested the four Singaporeans charged, while Larijani from Iran remains free.