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California Firm Fined for Illegal Export of Parts

August 18, 2004|From Associated Press

A California aircraft parts supplier, Interaero Inc., pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to illegally shipping $40,000 of missile and jet fighter equipment to a supplier in China who planned to forward the shipment to Iran.

Westlake Village-based Interaero acknowledged exporting six shipments of parts between June 2000 and March 2001 for F-4 Phantom and F-5 Tiger jets and parts for Hawk missiles without permission from the federal government.

The parts could only have been used for military purposes, authorities said.

The company agreed to pay a $500,000 fine and spend five years on corporate probation. Sentencing was set for Oct. 26.

The guilty plea in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia concluded an undercover investigation by three federal agencies: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

"The sensitive items that were illegally exported by this company are controlled for good reason -- in the wrong hands, they pose a threat to U.S. forces abroad and to Americans at home," said Michael J. Garcia, head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Undercover investigators have targeted parts suppliers who sell military equipment over the Internet to overseas firms. The F-4 and F-5 fighters are older American jets commonly used by foreign air forces.

"Once a company is on notice that its products will be exported, that company owes a duty to ensure that they will not end up in the wrong hands," U.S. Atty. Kenneth Wainstein said.

Authorities said Interaero knew it was selling the equipment to a buyer in China who planned to forward the parts to Iran. Under U.S. export laws, American companies cannot sell military parts to China or Iran.

No Interaero executives were charged in the case.

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