France is seeking to block the extradition to the U.S. of an Iranian businessman that U.S. authorities allege has assisted Iran in obtaining materials for use in Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. prosecutors have accused Majid Kakavand of running a Malaysian company that circumvented U.S. and European sanctions through purchasing military and commercial products, and shipping those products to Iran from Malaysia. Mr. Kakavand was arrested in 2009 on a U.S. warrant as he arrived in France for a vacation.
Prosecutors from the Department of Justice were in court this past Wednesday to argue in favor of the extradition when the French government’s lawyers announced their opposition. U.S. prosecutors allege that Evertop Services Sdn. Bhd., Mr. Kakavand’s Malaysian company, misrepresented its intentions to U.S. and European companies when purchasing components from those companies. The compenents purchased included capacitors, sensors and measurement systems. It is alleged that these componenets have been re-exported to two Iranian military companies.
The companies, Iran Electronics Industry and Iran Communication Industries, were targeted by U.S. sanctions since 2008 because of their alleged role in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. According to an affidavit filed in the French court supporting the extradition, Evertop was purchasing the products for companies that are blocked by European Union and U.S. sanctions. French government lawyers have countered this argument, stating that Mr. Kakavand’s company didn’t violate sanctions because the products exported weren’t classified as for “dual-use,” which would allow civilian and military uses.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
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Mr. Kakavand and the Iranian government deny the U.S. allegations.
The extradition treaty between the United States and France contains a dual criminality provision. As such, an extraditable offense under the extradition treaty would need to be a crime in both states in order for the extradition to take place. It is unclear whether the sanctions imposed by the European Union against Iran would rise to the level required to find an extraditable offense to satisfy the dual criminality provision. The U.S. sanctions against Iran are quite stringent, therefore, it would not be surprising if what the U.S. is considering a crime under the U.S. sanctions would not be a crime under E.U. sanctions. This could raise an interesting defense to Mr. Kakavand’s extradition to the U.S.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.