A Florida court has convicted three state residents of conspiracy to violate Iran sanctions and other crimes.
The three Florida residents were charged in a federal court in Miami with crimes related to their violations of US sanctions on Iran and money laundering.
The defendants, Mohammed Fakihi, 52, his wife Farzina Mudrisi, 53, and his sister Faiza Fakihi, 50, run Express Gen in Florida.
Between October 2016 and November 2020, Express Gene received numerous transfers from accounts in Malaysia, China and Turkey totaling about $3.5 million.
Some of the money received was used by Express Gene and its managers to purchase equipment from US manufacturers and ship it to Iran without a license from the US Treasury.
After arriving at Miami International Airport from Iran, Fakihi was searched by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. According to the indictment documents, while being searched by Customs and Border Protection officers, Fakihi made false statements, including that he did not practice his profession in Iran or conduct any kind of research in Iran.
Indeed, according to the affidavit, Fakihi was the director of a laboratory at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran that bears his name: Fakihi Genetic Medical Center. In addition, his bags contained 17 vials of unknown biological material covered in ice bags and hidden under bread and other food items, according to the affidavit. All vials were regulated.
From approximately 2013 to 2020, Fakihi was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami (UM), Miller School of Medicine. During this period, he was the principal investigator on several National Institute of Health (NIH) grants awarded in February 2013, December 2016 and June 2017. Express Gene and Faghihi allegedly received significant deposits during this period, but these were not disclosed as required by the reporting system UM’s or the National Institutes of Health’s financial conflict of interest.
All defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Faqi and Modrissi are also accused of illegally exporting goods to Iran and smuggling goods out of the United States. They were also accused of smuggling goods into the United States and making false statements. Fakihi was also accused of electronic fraud.