Tech firm tangled in Iran scam
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By ASHLEY SMITH Telegraph Staff
Published: Friday, Sep. 21, 2007
A Nashua surveillance technology company is one of several companies across the United States that was scammed into selling military-type products illegally destined for Iran, the U.S. Department of Justice reports.
DCT Communications Inc., of 486 Amherst St., which sells electronic communications equipment to government agencies, was told the products would be used by the Polish Border Control Agency.
According to federal court records and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd, U.S. companies are not required to seek specific government authorization for that kind of "peaceful" sale.
But in fact, the Netherlands aviation company was violating a trade embargo by sending products such as parachutes, aircraft parts and industrial chemicals to Iran, according to a statement this week from the justice department.
"U.S. companies are mostly very good about not selling products to Iran . . . it's against the law," Boyd said, stressing the U.S. companies were not at fault. "In this case these companies were being lied to."
The Netherlands company accused of selling products to Iran is called Aviation Services International B.V. Owner Robert Kraaipoel, 64, of the Netherlands, faces a slew of criminal charges but has yet to be captured. Kraaipoel was charged following a federal investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Commerce, with help from the FBI and Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
In total, Kraaipoel was successful in getting 290 items into Iran, Boyd said.
DTC did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday, but details of the company's involvement are spelled out in court records.
On Oct. 28, 2005, Aviation Services placed an order with DTC for two video receiver units, according to a criminal complaint against Kraaipoel filed in U.S. District Court.
Days later, on Nov. 3, a DTC employee sent an e-mail to the company requesting to know the products' final destination, as is required by federal law. When the response was Poland, the products were shipped Nov. 5.
Aviation placed a second order later that month and another shipment was exported in early 2006.
Polish border guards later told the FBI they would have no need for that type of equipment and had never done business with Aviation Services, according to the court records.
Aviation is also accused of scamming companies in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida and Kansas. Kraaipoel, the company and two other related firms are named in the complaint.
The maximum penalty for violating the trade embargo on Iran is 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
The goods were being sent to Iranian government agencies or private companies doing business in Iran.