US Charges Indonesian Citizen with Transporting Plane Parts to Iran

BenarNews staff
Washington
2019-12-18
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191218-ID-US-iran-sanctions-620.JPG A Mahan Air jet is parked at Sanaa International Airport in Yemen after its first flight from Iran, March 1, 2015.
Reuters

An Indonesian man and three Indonesia-based companies violated American export laws by transporting airplane parts to an Iranian airline under global terrorism sanctions, U.S. justice officials allege in an eight-count indictment announced this week.

The indictment marked the latest U.S. government action against companies or individuals in Southeast Asia who allegedly breached sanctions targeting Tehran.

The charges were filed on Dec. 10 against Sunarko Kuntjoro, 68, and the three firms – PT MS Aero Support (PTMS), PT Kandiyasa Energi Utama (PTKEU), and PT Antasena Kreasi (PTAK) – the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Tuesday.

Kuntjoro, the majority owner and president of PTMS, conspired with Iran-based Mahan Air and a company executive, as well as with an unnamed American person and company, between March 2011 and July 2018, the department alleged in a news release.

“The conspiracy involved transporting goods owned by Mahan through PTMS, PTKEU and PTAK to the United States for repair and re-export to Mahan in Iran and elsewhere,” it said.

Efforts by BenarNews to contact Kuntjoro on Wednesday were not immediately successful. Calls to Indonesian phone numbers listed on the PTKEU and PTAK websites were not answered. PTMS, for its part, does not have a website, and a phone listing for the firm was not available.

Kuntjoro and the Indonesian companies are charged with conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S.-origin goods and technology to Iran and to defraud the United States. Other charges against him and PTMS include unlawful export to an embargoed country, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements.

DoJ said two of the charges against Kuntjoro carry maximum sentences of five years while two other charges carry 20-year sentences.

“The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge,” the department said, adding that defendants were presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

Kuntjoro remains at large in Indonesia, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

The indictment against him follows a July 23 advisory from the U.S. Department of the Treasury that those who engage in unauthorized transfers of American-made aircraft, parts or technology, or who conduct business with designed Iranian airlines including Mahan Air, would face “enforcement or sanctions actions.”

U.S. authorities have accused Mahan Air of aiding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Qods Force by ferrying weapons and personnel around the Middle East.

“Persons considering continued aviation business with Iran need to understand the role that many Iranian commercial airlines play in supporting the Iranian regime’s efforts to foment regional violence through terrorism, its weapons programs, and other destabilizing activity to include exploiting its own people through brutal human rights abuses against women, political opponents and others,” the treasury department said in the advisory.

2018 actions

Last year, U.S. treasury officials imposed sanctions against Malaysian and Thai companies for dealing with Mahan Air.

In July 2018, the treasury department announced that all transactions within U.S. jurisdiction involving assets of Malaysian-based Mahan Travel and Tourism Sdn. Bhd. would be blocked as a result of the sanctions. At the time, the Malaysian company had served Mahan Air for at least eight years as its sole travel agent in Malaysia, providing reservation and ticketing services.

The department warned those operating in the civil aviation industry to “implement appropriate controls to ensure compliance with legal requirements and sanctions.”

Two months later, U.S. treasury officials designated My Aviation Co. Ltd., headquartered in Bangkok, as serving as Mahan’s general sales agent in Thailand. They said that My Aviation had booked passengers on flights and worked with local freight companies to ship cargo aboard Mahan flights to Tehran.

“This Thailand-based company has disregarded numerous U.S. warnings, issued publicly and delivered bilaterally to the Thai government, to sever ties with Mahan Air. This action should serve as a warning that the U.S. is intent on ensuring that the aviation industry ceases providing services to, and profiting from, this terrorist-affiliated airline,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a Sept. 14, 2018, news release.

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