(CN) – New York released a massive complaint on Monday against 11 companies and five people accused of doing business with an Iranian shipping company tied to nuclear armament.
The defendants were charged in a 143-page, 317-count indictment in Manhattan Supreme Court for violating the U.S. trade embargo with Iran between 2008 and 2011.
To do business with the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), prosecutors say the defendants falsified bank records with aliases and corporate alter egos.
The IRISL has been sanctioned by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations for its alleged role in developing nuclear weapons. The shipping line is one of the largest in the world, and operates major shipping centers in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the shipping line and its affiliates as proliferators of weapons of mass destruction “for providing logistical services to Iran’s ballistic missile programs,” authorities say.
As part of the indictment, OFAC announced that it is designating five companies and two individuals for their affiliation with IRISL. The companies designated are Sinose Martitime Pte Ltd., Leading Maritime Pte Ltd., Great Ocean Shipping Services LLC and Pacific Shipping Company. The individuals are Alireza Ghezelayagh and Moghaddami Fard of Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, respectively.
Because the IRISL is banned from doing business with U.S. banks, the defendants sent and received illegal payments through Manhattan banks using aliases and alter egos from other countries, the indictment says. The conspiracy involved over $60 million in illegal payments.
“For sanctions to be effective, they must be enforced,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement. “New York remains the number one target of terrorist organizations around the world, and today’s joint action will make it more difficult for Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism.”
The remaining companies indicted are Hafiz Darya Shipping Lines and Safiran Payam Darya Shipping Company from Iran; Asia Marine Network Pte Ltd. from Singapore; Oasis Freight Agencies from the United Arab Emirates; and Irinvestship Ltd and Fairway Shipping Limited in the United Kingdom.
The individual defendants are Alireza Davoudzadeh from the United Arab Emirates, Cheong Kheng Guan from Singapore and Mohammad Hadi Pajand from the United Kingdom.
The investigation was led by Aaron Wolfson, attorney-in-charge of international investigations. Prosecutors also released a chart outlining the conspiracy.