Woman pleads guilty in Minnesota to stealing U.S. technology for Iran

It is unclear how much American technology was lost to Iran’s Fana Moj before the illegality was discovered, but it is yet another example of foreign firms and governments stealing U.S. technology. 

Negar Ghodskani

China is notorious for stealing U.S. technology, but they aren’t the only ones. Several days ago, an Iranian woman pled guilty in a Minnesota court to charges of stealing American technology for Iran. 

Negar Ghodskani was indicted in Minnesota in 2015, and arrested two years later in Australia, where her case then became subject to an extradition fight. Eventually, Ghodskani was brought to America to face charges, and pled guilty to a conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and over a $200,000 fine.

Ghodskani worked for Fana Moj, an Iranian telecommunications company which is on a list of Iranian companies labeled by the Treasury Department to be closely associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG). The IRG is heavily involved in Iran’s economy and society, and runs Iran’s Quds Force—a paramilitary outfit that is active in conflicts across the Middle East. 

According to court documents, Ghodskani, working for Fana Moj, set up a shell company in Malaysia—called Green Wave Telecommunication—in an attempt to bypass U.S. export controls to Iran and the Iranian government’s blacklisted companies.

Specifically, “Green Wave Telecommunication” was buying equipment from Minnesota and Massachusetts-based U.S. companies, and illegally moving that equipment from Malaysia to Iran. This equipment was then used to meet the needs of Fana Moj, and no doubt Fana Moj attempted to reverse-engineer the equipment, in order to self-produce the equipment. 

It is unclear how much American technology was lost to Iran’s Fana Moj before the illegality was discovered, but it is yet another example of foreign firms and governments stealing U.S. technology. 

For example, China’s telecoms giant Huawei was almost completely started with stolen U.S. technology, but today it is a global company and hugely strategically important to the communist Chinese government. And right now there are almost 1,000 open FBI investigations into Chinese corporate espionage and intellectual property theft, here in the United States.

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