Iran General NewsBalli unit settles with US over 747 export to...

Balli unit settles with US over 747 export to Iran

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ImageReuters: A unit of Britain's Balli Group Plc pleaded guilty on Friday in a U.S. court to charges it illegally exported Boeing Co 747 aircraft from the United States to Iran, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday. ImageWASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) – A unit of Britain's Balli Group Plc pleaded guilty on Friday in a U.S. court to charges it illegally exported Boeing Co 747 aircraft from the United States to Iran, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

The unit, Balli Aviation Ltd, agreed to pay a $2 million criminal fine and be placed on corporate probation for five years, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Balli Aviation and its parent also agreed to pay $15 million in civil penalties in settlements with the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments, although $2 million could be waived if there are no further export control violations.

The company was accused of violating a U.S. embargo on Iran without first obtaining the required export license or authorization from the U.S. government, the papers said.

"These charges reflect the commitment of the United States to vigorously enforce our laws against corporations that illegally seek to acquire U.S. aircraft from the U.S. on behalf of Iranian customers," Channing Phillips, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement.

At issue were six Boeing 747 jumbo passenger jets the company's subsidiaries and affiliates owned, three of which were leased to an Armenian airline that made them available to an Iranian private airline, Mahan Air, for flights in and out of Tehran.

The other three aircraft were not put into service.

"The U.S. authorities viewed Mahan's involvement and the manner of its access to the capacity of the aircraft, as well as some of the steps taken by Balli Aviation to recover the aircraft and mitigate damages, to have breached U.S. export rules," Balli Aviation said in a statement.

The United States has strict restrictions on exports to Iran, in part because of concerns that goods could also be used for military purposes. The two countries have been at loggerheads for years.

The case is 09-cr-00366 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. (Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Andre Grenon)

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