Jeng “Jay” Shih, and his company, Sunrise Technologies and Trading Corporation, have plead guilty for conspiracy to illegally export United States-origin computers from the United States to Iran through Dubai, UAE. Due to charge being conspiracy, the maximum sentence is five years in prison and $1 million in criminal fines, as opposed to the traditional criminal penalties under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) of up to twenty years imprisonment.
In additional to the potential criminal penalties, Shih has also agreed to forfeiture of a money judgment in the amount of $1.25 million. Finally, Shih and his company are denied export privileges for 10 years, although this penalty can be suspended if Shih and Sunrise commit to refraining from any further export violations.
Shih was originally arrested on April 6, 2011, though he and his company were not indicted until April 21, 2011. According to the facts to which he plead guilty, Shih conspired with a company operating in Dubai, UAE, and Tehran, Iran, to procure United States-origin computers through Sunrise and export those computers from the United States to Iran, through Dubai, without first obtaining a license or authorization from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Shih and his company were responsible for the illegal export of 711 units of computer-related goods to Dubai, which were later sent to Iran.
Criminal convictions under IEEPA carry a maximum of 20 years imprisonment. However, in this case Shih was convicted of conspiracy to violate IEEPA, therefore, he will only face imprisonment of up to five (5) years. With less than six months separating the arrest of Shih and his guilty plea, it seems as though the government was giving Shih a break for pleading guilty early on in the process. Indeed, the plea agreement sent to Shih’s defense counsel only kept the deal open until October 3, 2011. Although we do not have the benefit of seeing all of the government’s evidence, based on the indictment and how previous cases of this type have been prosecuted, Shih likely made the right move to plea to the conspiracy charge. If he had gone to trial and lost he would have been looking at a 20 year maximum term of imprisonment with a high likelihood that the bottom of the sentencing guideline range would be nearly five (5) years.
The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.