Belgian held over plot for jet parts supply
Washington, September 3, 2009
A Belgian national and resident of France, has been arrested on charges alleging that he conspired to illegally export F-5 fighter jet engines and parts from the US to Iran.
Jacques Monsieur, suspected of international arms dealing for decades, was scheduled to have his arraignment yesterday (September 2) in federal court in Mobile, Alabama.
A six-count indictment returned on August 27 in the southern district of Alabama charging Monsieur, 56, and co-defendant Dara Fotouhi, aka Dara Fatouhi, 54, an Iranian national currently living in France, with conspiracy, money laundering, smuggling, as well as violations of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
Monsieur was arrested by federal agents last Friday upon his arrival in New York. Fotouhi remains at large.
The charge of conspiracy carries a potential sentence of five years in prison, while smuggling carries a potential 10-year prison term, AECA carries a potential 10-year prison term, money laundering carries a potential 20-year prison term and IEEPA carries a potential 20-year prison term.
According to the indictment and an affidavit filed in the case, defendants Monsieur and Fotouhi are experienced arms dealers who have been actively working with the Iranian government to procure military items for the Iranian government.
The indictment alleges that in February, Monsieur contacted an undercover agent seeking engines for the F-5 (EIF) fighter jet or the C-130 military transport aircraft for export to Iran. Thereafter, Monsieur began having regular e-mail contact with the undercover agent regarding requested F-5 engines and parts.
These engines, known as J85-21 models, are replacement engines for the F-5 fighter jet that was sold to Iran by the US before the 1979 Iranian revolution. The engines and parts are designated as defense articles on the US Munitions List and may not be exported from the US without a license from the US State Department.
Additionally, these items may not be exported to Iran without a license from the US Treasury Department due to the US trade embargo on Iran.
According to the indictment, in March, Monsieur met with the undercover agent in Paris, where Monsieur again requested engines and parts for the F-5 fighter jet.
In May, an undercover agent met with Monsieur in London, where Monsieur introduced Dara Fotouhi as a business associate, and again discussed the illegal export of F-5 fighter jet engines from the US to Iran.
During this negotiation, the defendants allegedly asked the undercover agent if he could obtain or use US shipping or export authorization documents that falsely indicated that the end user of the items would be located in Colombia.
In June 2009, according to the indictment, Monsieur sent an e-mail to the undercover agent and provided a purchase order for F-5 fighter jet parts from a front company for an organization known as Trast Aero Space, located in Kyrgyzstan.
The order requested that the parts be located by the undercover agent and illegally exported to the UAE for transshipment to Iran.
The following month, Monsieur allegedly contacted the undercover agent indicating that approximately $110,000 had been wired from Dubai to a bank account in Alabama as payment for the parts.
He also indicated that a deposit of $300,000 would be forthcoming as a down payment for two F-5 fighter jet engines. In August, Monsieur requested information from the undercover agent about his contact in Colombia for forwarding the aircraft parts from Colombia to the UAE, the indictment alleges.
'The facts alleged in this indictment underscore the global reach of Iranian procurement networks and the international arms traffickers who help supply them,” said Deputy Attorney General Ogden.
“This case also highlights the importance of keeping restricted US weapo