Five Pakistani businessmen were indicted in federal court Wednesday for their alleged roles in smuggling U.S.-origin supplies into Pakistan to support the country’s nuclear program.
Between September 2014 and October 2019, the group is said to have operated an international network of front companies that existed to acquire goods for a Pakistani group called the Advanced Engineering Research Organization and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, according to a federal grand jury indictment.
The goods were exported from the United States without export licenses, in violation of federal law, the indictment said. Both organizations were on a Commerce Department list that imposes export license requirements for groups whose activities are found to be contrary to U.S. security or foreign policy interests.
The men -- from Pakistan, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom -- are accused of attempting to conceal the true destinations of the goods by using the front companies as the supposed purchasers and end-users of them, and as the apparent source of payments. Several were listed as being in New Hampshire.
“The defendants smuggled U.S. origin goods to entities that have been designated for years as threats to U.S. national security for their ties to Pakistan’s weapons programs,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said.
“This indictment puts the world on notice not to do business with these defendants and demonstrates our commitment to holding them accountable," he added. "It also stands as an example of the kind of deceptive behavior U.S. businesses need to watch out for in designing appropriate export control and sanctions compliance programs.”
It wasn't immediately clear if the defendants had lawyers who could speak on their behalf.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.