International Arms Dealer Indicted in Alabama for Conspiring to Supply Jet Engines to Iran
Update: Jacques Monsieur pleaded guilty on November 23, 2009, to conspiracy to export F-5 fighter jet engines and parts from the U.S. to Iran.
Posted: September 10, 2009
An international arms dealer has been indicted in Alabama for conspiring to illegally export F-5 fighter jet engines and parts to Iran.
Jacques Monsieur, 56, was indicted in an Alabama federal court on August 27, 2009, for conspiracy, smuggling, money-laundering and violating weapons-trafficking laws related to the U.S.'s trade embargo on Iran. Monsieur, who was arrested by federal agents upon arriving to New York from France the following day, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. His co-defendant, Dara Fotouhi, 54, remains at large.
According to the indictment, Fotouhi and Monsieur, a Belgian national living in France, are experienced arms dealers who have been working to procure military supplies for the Iranian government. In February 2009, Monsieur allegedly sought to obtain engines for the F-5 fighter jet from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement undercover agent. He subsequently met with undercover agents in both Paris and London.
The requested engines and parts are designated as defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List and therefore may not be exported from the U.S. without a license or written authorization from the State Department. The Treasury Department's trade embargo on Iran, which it describes as "the world's most active state sponsor of terror," also prohibits the exportation of these items to Iran without a license.
In March 2009, Monsieur allegedly met with an undercover agent in Paris and again requested the engines and parts for the F-5 fighter jet. In London two months later, Monsieur introduced Fotouhi, an Iranian national residing in France, as a business associate to an undercover agent. While discussing how to export the jet engines to Iran, Monsieur and Fotouhi allegedly asked the agent if they could use U.S. export authorization documents to falsely claim that the items would be sent to Colombia, according to the indictment.
Monsieur e-mailed the undercover agent in June 2009 with a purchase order for the jet parts. According to the indictment, the purchase order came from a front company for the Trast Aero Space organization, which is located in Kyrgyzstan. In the e-mail, Monsieur requested the parts be exported to the United Arab Emirates for transshipment to Iran.
The following month, Monsieur and Fotouhi informed the undercover agent that they had wired approximately $110,000 from the United Arab Emirates to a bank account in Mobile, Alabama as payment for the aircraft parts, according to the indictment. They planned to deposit an additional $300,000 as a down payment for two F-5 fighter jet engines.
In August 2009, Monsieur asked the agent for information about his contact in Colombia, who Monsieur believed would forward the aircraft parts to the United Arab Emirates, according to the indictment. Monsieur also stated in a telephone call that he would wire funds to the bank account of the shipper in Colombia. He was arrested shortly thereafter.
Monsieur's arrest is the latest in the crackdown against those who illegally funnel goods and military equipment to Iran. In the spring of 2009, Hassan Saied Keshari and Traian Bujduveanu were sentenced to 17 months and 35 months in prison, respectively, for conspiring to export goods from the U.S. to Iran. In 2007, federal prosecutors reportedly charged at least a dozen businesspeople in the U.S. with illegally selling military equipment to Iran.