WASHINGTON - A Dutch company and the father and son who managed it pleaded guilty Thursday to exporting American-made aircraft parts to Iran in violation of U.S. embargoes.
U.S. law has prohibited U.S. goods from being sold to Iran without authorization since 1995.
But Robert Kraaipoel and his son, Neils, stood before U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington and admitted that they bought U.S. goods from October 2005 to October 2007 without disclosing it was on behalf of customers in Iran.
The criminal complaint says they bought more than 290 items, including parachutes, aircraft parts, aircraft paints and industrial chemicals, from the United States and sent them to Iran.
They had the orders shipped from companies in the states of Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, Kansas and New Hampshire to their company, Aviation Services International in the Netherlands, or to addresses in other countries like the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, court documents say. Then the goods would be repackaged and shipped to Iran.
The two men and the company pleaded guilty to one felony conspiracy count. The company has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and the Kraaipoels each face a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. But their attorneys said they are hoping to get a sentence of probation by co-operating with federal investigators.
They were allowed to return to the Netherlands until sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.
"Keeping America's critical technology from falling into the hands of state sponsors of terror has never been more important," David Kris, assistant attorney general for National Security, said in response to the pleas.
ASI Director Robert Kraaipoel, 66, initially denied falsifying documents in an interview with The Associated Press shortly after he was charged two years ago. He said he scrupulously followed regulations in the Netherlands and got approval from the Dutch Economic Affairs Ministry for shipments his company made to Iran.
But Neils Kraaipoel, 40 years old and ASI's sales manager, admitted that he lied when an official from the U.S. Commerce Department questioned whether a shipment of parts to ASI in January 2007 was destined for Iran. "He said they were not, that ASI did not have any business dealings with Iran and that he was aware of the U.S. trade restrictions on Iran," the Justice Department said in a statement.
The purchases destined for Iran included U.S. electronic communications equipment that can be used in unmanned aerial vehicles that the defendants said was being sent to the Polish Border Control Agency. It also included nearly $10,000 in aluminum sheets and rods from a Florida company that Dutch customs officials intercepted after ASI attempted to ship them to Iran.