British Aviation Firm Pleads Guilty in U.S. Court to Exporting Boeing 747 Aircraft to Iran

Balli Aviation Ltd., a subsidiary of United Kingdom-based Balli Group, PLC, pled guilty on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to charges of illegally exporting Boeing 747 aircraft from the United States to Iran. Balli Aviation had agreed in a plea agreement to pay a $2 million fine and to be placed on corporate probation for five years, as reported on the PM Newswire. The information against the company alleged that, from 2005 through 2008, the company conspired to export three Boeing 747 aircraft to Iran without obtaining the required export licenses from the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), or required permission from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Balli Aviation was charged with purchasing the aircraft through a subsidiary, Blue Sky Companies, with financing from a private Iranian airline, Mahan Air, and with entering into a lease agreement with Mahan Air.

Balli Aviation and Balli Group announced on Friday that they have also reached a $15 million settlement of a parallel civil action with BIS and OFAC. Balli Aviation and Balli Group also had their export privileges revoked for five years, however this condition was suspended on the condition of the companies' payment of the civil penalty and refraining from committing any further violation of export laws. The companies must also submit to independent audits of their export compliance program for five years with the results being reviewed by BIS and OFAC. Former Chancellor of Britain, Lord Lamont, is a non-executive director for Balli Group.

Businesses considering engaging in trade abroad in countries which may be subject to sanctions or restrictions by the U.S. should examine both BIS' export control rules and requirements and OFAC's information on sanctions programs and also consult with counsel.

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