The U.S. Justice Department said Markos Baghdasarian, president of Delfin Group USA, was arrested on Saturday at the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta just before boarding a flight to the United Arab Emirates.
Baghdasarian was charged by criminal complaint, issued in the District of South Carolina, with exporting goods from the United States to Iran without the required Treasury Department licenses and with making false statements on official government documents.
He made his first appearance before a magistrate judge in the Northern District of Georgia on Monday. “If convicted of these charges, Baghdasarian could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison,” the Justice Department said.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Baghdasarian served as president of Delfin Group USA, which is a Russian-owned producer of synthetic motor oils, located in North Charleston, S.C. From as early as June 13, 2010, until Oct. 12, 2011, Baghdasarian is alleged to have engaged in prohibited transactions with customers in Iran, including Pars Oil which is an oil company owned by the Iranian government. U.S. persons and companies are prohibited from engaging in commercial transactions involving Iran unless authorized by the Treasury Department.
In addition, Baghdasarian in August 2011 exported to Iran aviation engine oils and polymer valued at $850,000. He is alleged to have concealed that Iranian customers were the true recipients of the shipment by falsely asserting in an official document that a business entity in the UAE was the ultimate consignee for the goods.
“Charges set forth in a criminal complaint are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt,” the Justice Department said.