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3 min read

Illegal Export Scheme: US Seizes Funds in Civil Forfeiture Action



In a recent legal breakthrough that highlights the importance of ITAR compliance and arms regulation, the United States has achieved a significant milestone. Through a rigorous investigation into an illicit scheme involving the illegal export of petroleum parts to Iran, the U.S. government took successful action to seize $396,589 in U.S. funds tied to Royal Pearls General Trading.

This case underscores the crucial role played by legal professionals and law firms in ensuring compliance with ITAR regulations. Attorneys like Ari B. Redbord, Brian P. Hudak, Kyle Timothy Bateman, and Zia Mustafa Faruqui have been instrumental in unraveling the complexities of this unlawful enterprise. Their expertise in ITAR compliance and understanding of the intricacies of arms export regulations have proved invaluable.

Overseeing these proceedings with utmost integrity and expertise is Judge Reggie B. Walton, who brings his vast knowledge and experience to the table. His commitment to upholding ITAR regulations and ensuring a fair legal process is commendable.

This case serves as a reminder of the significance and implications of ITAR compliance in the United States. The country's elaborate ITAR regulation, overseen by the State Department, imposes strict controls on the transfer of defense articles, technical data, and defense services to foreign nationals or countries. These regulations are integral to preserving national security and safeguarding sensitive information.

To ensure compliance with ITAR requirements, individuals and organizations need to have a comprehensive understanding of the United States Munitions List (USML) and the Commerce Control List (CCL). These lists categorize articles, technical data, and services that fall under ITAR regulations and are subject to export controls.

Moreover, ITAR compliance goes beyond simply adhering to regulations. It necessitates the implementation of a robust compliance program, designed to prevent violations and mitigate risks. Prime contractors and defense-related companies, in particular, must establish and maintain an effective program to safeguard sensitive data and protect against unauthorized exports.

While compliance with ITAR regulations is critical, it can be a complex endeavor. Access to managed services, such as AWS GovCloud, can provide organizations with the necessary infrastructure and expertise to ensure ITAR compliance while maintaining the highest standards of data security.

The forfeiture action taken against Royal Pearls General Trading serves as a vivid example of the United States' unwavering commitment to ITAR compliance and arms regulation. This case highlights the indispensable role played by legal professionals, such as Ari B. Redbord, Brian P. Hudak, Kyle Timothy Bateman, and Zia Mustafa Faruqui, in upholding ITAR requirements. By adhering to ITAR regulations and implementing robust compliance programs, organizations can contribute to national security and protect sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.

The Scheme Unveiled

The focal point of this case is the payment terms outlined in Purchase Order 40008, which required PT Petro, a company involved in the transaction, to make full payment in advance before shipment. PT Petro fulfilled this obligation by wiring funds to U.S. Company 1 on two separate occasions. However, these funds were later seized by law enforcement, triggering the subsequent civil forfeiture action.

Government's Allegations

In its pursuit of justice, the United States government has accused PT Petro and Royal Pearls of falsifying export documents, an act that violates the law. To demonstrate the seriousness of the situation, the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Royal Pearls, MKS, and Rostamian as "Specially Designated Nationals," further emphasizing the gravity of their involvement.

Determining Liability

In a civil forfeiture case, the court has discretionary power when considering a default judgment. In this instance, well-pleaded allegations in the government's complaint play a significant role in establishing liability. To this end, the government has satisfied the procedural prerequisites for forfeiture, as outlined under Rule G. The specific legal basis for the government's entitlement to a default judgment and forfeiture of the defendant funds are 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C) and 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(A).

Notifying Potential Claimants

During the forfeiture action, the government made every effort to notify potentially affected parties. Notices were served to PT Petro, MKS, U.S. Company 1, and Royal Pearls. Although some notices were returned undelivered, the government argues that its attempts to reach Royal Pearls were reasonably calculated to inform the company about the action.

The Legal Grounds

The government invokes the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to establish the basis for forfeiture. This act prohibits the export of goods or services to Iran without a license. The defendant funds in this case are alleged to be derived from proceeds traceable to violations of the IEEPA, making them subject to forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C). Furthermore, the funds are also argued to be subject to forfeiture under § 981(a)(1)(A) due to their connection with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1956, which prohibits the transportation of funds with the intent to promote unlawful activity.


In conclusion, ITAR Compliance is a critical aspect for businesses and organizations involved in defense-related activities. It ensures the protection of sensitive data and technology, prevents the unauthorized flow of defense articles, and maintains national security interests. By adhering to the regulations set forth by the United States Department of State, companies can avoid potential violations and severe penalties. Through a robust compliance program and thorough understanding of the ITAR requirements, organizations can effectively navigate the complex landscape of export controls and contribute to the overall safety and integrity of the defense industry. Remember, maintaining ITAR compliance is not just a legal obligation, but also a responsibility to safeguard sensitive information and promote national security.