Costa Mesa business owners accused of illegally supplying to Iran
COSTA MESA — Federal authorities have charged two men who own a Costa Mesa computer company with illegally exporting millions of dollars of computer-related goods to Iran.
Massoud “Matt” Habibion and Mohsen “Max” Motamedian co-own Online Micro LLC, a computer business on Baker Street near John Wayne Airport.
The U.S. citizens were indicted Thursday on a combined 64 counts of conspiracy, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, making or causing false statements, and obstruction of justice.
At least one of the defendants has denied the charges.
“The charges are just pure allegations at this time,” Habibion said in a Friday phone interview with the Daily Pilot.
He declined further comment.
Habibion and Motamedian exported U.S.-origin computers to the Islamic Republic of Iran between 2007 and April of this year, according to court documents.
Online Micro allegedly sent $1.9 million worth of goods to a company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which then shipped them to Tehran.
Sending exports to Iran violates U.S. trade sanctions, which have been in place in various forms since 1979.
Online Micro allegedly covered up its shipments by noting on Customs forms that Dubai was the final destination for the goods.
Court documents state that Habibion and Motamedian also tried to convince another business partner to lie to U.S. investigators, provided altered business invoices and asked that person to destroy a photograph that may have been damning.
According to the affidavit, Habibion told the person at a January meeting, “If they ask you, for instance, ‘Do you do business in Tehran?’ ‘No, I don’t have any business in Tehran. I go there to visit family, but I have no business there.’ They will ask you such questions; it is part of their routine.”
Both Habibion and Motamedian face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1-million fine for each of the IEEPA charges, five years for each false statement, and 20 years for each obstruction of justice count, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Habibion and Motamedian were arrested April 7 and went before a judge, according to Department of Justice Spokesman Dean Boyd.
They were released on bond subject to conditions that included surrendering their passports, posting bail and having travel restrictions.
Habibion and Motamedian are scheduled to make an appearance in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.