Consultant To Iranian Mission To The United Nations Pleads Guilty To Filing False Income Tax Return And Conspiring To Violate Sanctions Laws
BROOKLYN, NY – Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, Ahmad Sheikhzadeh, a United States citizen and resident of New York City, pled guilty to filing a false income tax return that substantially understated the amount of cash salary he received from Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations (IMUN) and conspiring to facilitate the transfer of funds to Iran without the required license from the Treasury Department in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Today’s plea proceeding took place before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.
The guilty plea was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Shantelle Kitchen, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, beginning in January 2008, Sheikhzadeh was employed as a consultant to the IMUN and received a regular salary, in cash, approximately once per month through an intermediary who was an official at the IMUN. Sheikhzadeh was not a declared IMUN official. From 2008 through 2012, Sheikhzadeh filed personal income tax returns that substantially understated the amount of income he received from his work for the IMUN. In addition, distinct from his work for the IMUN, Sheikhzadeh provided money remitting (“hawala”) services to co-conspirators in the United States to facilitate investments in Iran and to direct disbursements from Iranian bank accounts. Sheikhzadeh engaged in these money transfers without a license from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in violation of IEEPA.
When sentenced, Sheikhzadeh faces up to 23 years in prison. He has agreed to pay over $147,000 in restitution and forfeiture.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tali Farhadian and Peter Baldwin from the Office’s Public Integrity and National Security and Cybercrime Sections, and Brian Morris from the Asset Forfeiture Section. Assistance was also provided by Trial Attorney David Recker of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.