By: Brooke Driver
Nader Modanlo, a born Iraqi and naturalized U.S. citizen living in Potomac, Maryland, was recently sentenced to eight years in prison, three years of probation and a whopping $10,000,000 fine for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and obstructing bankruptcy proceedings. A number of government agencies were involved in constructing the case against Modanlo, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
The 53-year-old took part in a complex conspiracy (that took place between the years of 2000 and 2007) to illegally provide satellite related services to Iran. According to the evidence presented at trial, Modanlo used his expertise as a mechanical engineer and his background in finance and strategic policy as they relate to space-based telecommunications to facilitate the creation and launch of Iran’s first satellite.
In 1994, as the principal owner and president of Final Analysis, Inc., Modanlo began a working relationship with POLYOT, an aerospace company owned by the Russian government. Between the years 1995 and 2000, Final Analysis provided POLYOT with telecommunication satellites. Modanlo filed for and received the required licenses for these transactions.
However, in 2001, after Final Analysis was forced into bankruptcy, Modanlo founded New York Satellites Industries, running the company out of his own home. While working for Final Analysis, Modanlo began his illegal contract with POLYOT to construct and launch a remote sensing and telecommunications satellite for Iran, an agreement he honored under the name of his new company. Knowing that direct financial transactions would be difficult due to the sanction against the country, Modanlo and a number of other interested parties, including a former Iranian ambassador, met in Switzerland to discuss the details of the launch and the money exchange. To solve the problem, they formed a fake company called Prospect Telecom and opened a Swiss bank account under that name. Investors transferred funds to this account for the project, including $10,000,000 that was almost immediately sent to Modanlo’s New York Satellite Industries bank account as payment for his help in the launch, which took place October 2005. In the two years following the launch, Modanlo made false statements and withheld information regarding the ownership and aim of Prospect Telecom in bankruptcy proceedings.