Five businessmen from Pakistan have been indicted in the United States for operating an international network of front companies to export US origin products to the terrorist state of Pakistan for use in that country’s nuclear program.
According to reports, the five Pakistani men transported the goods to Pakistan’s Advanced Engineering Research Organization and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission without export licenses, according to the indictment of a federal court in New Hampshire.
The five indicted men are identified as 41-year-old Muhammad Kamran Wali living in Pakistan, 48-year-old Muhammad Ahsan Wali and 82-year-old Haji Wali Muhammad Sheikh, a father-son duo from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Ashraf Khan Muhammad of Hong Kong and Ahmed Waheed of Ilford, Essex, United Kingdom have also been indicted.
However, none of them has been arrested and arrest warrants are pending.
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) January 17, 2020
Reportedly, the defendants attempted to hide the destinations of the exports in Pakistan by using their network of front companies as importers and end-users.
The accused Pakistani men, who lived in Pakistan, Canada, Hong Kong and England, were charged in federal court in New Hampshire, where three of the US companies are based, with conspiracy to violate US export control laws. None of the US companies were found to be complicit in unlawful exports.
The two Pakistani entities, AERO and PAEC are on the US Commerce Department’s list of companies required to hold export licenses because their activities are deemed contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests.
The Pakistan Aerospace Council (PAEC) is an organisation for enterprises active in the aerospace, defence and high tech electronics market. PAEC was added to the list in 1998 after Pakistan carried out a series of underground nuclear tests in response to Indian nuclear tests.
Advanced Engineering Research Organisation (AERO) was included in 2014 after the US found that it had used intermediaries and front companies to acquire goods for Pakistan’s cruise missile and strategic unmanned aerial vehicle programs, the Justice Department said.
“The defendants smuggled US-origin goods to entities that have been designated for years as threats to US national security for their ties to Pakistan’s weapons programs,” John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.
“This indictment puts the world on notice not to do business with these defendants and demonstrates our commitment to holding them accountable,” Demers said.
“It also stands as an example of the kind of deceptive behaviour US businesses need to watch out for in designing appropriate export control and sanctions compliance programs,” he added in his statement.
The indictment stemmed from counter nuclear proliferation efforts by investigative agencies within the departments of Justice, Commerce, Homeland Security and Defense. Jason Molina, acting special agent in charge, Homeland Security Investigations, said the agency’s counterproliferation group proactively conducts investigations into violations of US export-import licensing because of the threat they can pose to US national security.