Friday, January 06, 2012
Pakistani National Sentenced in Scheme to Illegally Export Restricted Nuclear Materials to Pakistan
BALTIMORE—U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Nadeem Akhtar, age 46, of Silver Spring, Maryland, today to 37 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiring to commit export violations and to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to illegally export nuclear-related materials.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Rick Shimon of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement’s Washington Field Office.
“The United States regulates the export of items that can be used in nuclear facilities, requiring a purchaser to truthfully disclose the end user,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Nadeem Akhtar conspired to violate export regulations by selling controlled items while misrepresenting what they were and to whom they would be sold.”
“The fast-paced nature of this changing world has created new challenges in preventing nuclear technology from falling into the hands of those who are hostile to U.S. interests,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely. “Nowhere in the national security arena is the FBI’s alliance with private industry as important in preserving the security of this country.”
“This sentence underscores the importance of the U.S. government’s unwavering determination to disrupt and dismantle criminal proliferation networks endangering U.S. national security” said Rick Shimon, Special Agent in Charge of the Commerce Department’s Washington Office of Export Enforcement. “Preventing sensitive U.S.-origin technology from being used in illicit nuclear programs is one of our top priorities at the Commerce Department.”
According to his plea agreement, Akhtar, a Pakistani national and lawful permanent resident of the U.S., owns Computer Communication USA (CC-USA). From October 2005 through March 11, 2010, Akhtar and his conspirators used CC-USA to obtain or attempt to obtain radiation detection devices, resins for coolant water purification, calibration and switching equipment, attenuators, and surface refinishing abrasives for export to restricted entities in Pakistan. Due to their use in both commercial and military applications, a license would be required to export these items to an end-user of concern or if exported in support of a prohibited end-use, such as activities related to related to nuclear explosives, nuclear reactors, or the processing and production of nuclear-related materials. Other items that Akhtar unlawfully procured or exported, or attempted to procure or export, to restricted entities in Pakistan include mechanical and electrical valves, cranes and scissor lifts. The total worth of all of these items exceeded $400,000.
The restricted entities in Pakistan included organizations of concern to the U.S. government as acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. These restricted entities included: Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission; and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and its subordinate entities, such as the Chasma Nuclear Power Plant I in Kundian, Pakistan and the research reactor maintained by the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a constituent institution of the PAEC in Nilhore, Pakistan, specializing in nuclear-related research and development. Exports of commodities to these organizations were prohibited absent the issuance of an export license.
Akhtar attempted to evade export regulations and licensing requirements by: undervaluing and falsely describing the items being exported; failing to reveal the true end-user by using third parties and/or real and fake business entities/locations in Pakistan, Dubai and the United States; using individuals in Illinois and California to procure items for him under false pretenses; shipping items to his residences in Maryland so it would appear as though his company was the actual purchaser/end-user of the items; and trans-shipping the items from the U.S. through the UAE.
Akhtar took direction from the owner of a trading company located in Karachi, Pakistan, who had business relationships with governmental entities in Pakistan. This individual would obtain orders for nuclear-related and other commodities from Pakistani government entities identified above, and then direct Akhtar as to what commodities to purchase in the United States for export to Pakistan, and the methods to be used to conceal the true nature, value and end-user of the items. Akhtar would then negotiate prices with manufacturers and suppliers of commodities sought in the U.S. and arrange for shipment of the commodities. Akhtar’s co-conspirators included individuals in Pakistan, Dubai, UAE and New York associated with the owner of the Pakistani trading company. The owner usually paid Akhtar a commission of 5 to 7.5 percent of the cost of each item Akhtar obtained for export from the U.S.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and the Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Christine Manuelian, who prosecuted the case.