India-born Canadian woman, wanted by US in illegal arms deal, held in Mumbai

Sunday, 12 January 2014 - 9:25am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

City crime branch sleuths on Saturday arrested an India-born Canadian citizen wanted by the US, following a red corner notice (RCN) issued against her. The woman, who has been identified as Shahin Sabooni, was apprehended from the international airport. Sabooni, as a representative of a Dubai-based company Sea Speed United Arab Emirates, is alleged to have defrauded the US government, along with others, by unlawfully purchasing and exporting commercial and military aircraft parts from the US.

Sabooni was a Pune resident who settled in Tehran, Iran, after marriage. She also holds a Canadian citizenship, police sources said. Sources said that Sabooni arrived by a flight from Tehran on Friday and was accompanied by another woman. Around 10pm, she was held by immigration officials after they learned that a RCN was issued against her.

Between January 2004 and May 2008, Sabooni and others defrauded the US government by unlawfully purchasing and exporting commercial and military aircraft parts in Florida and other parts of US, according to police sources.

“It is alleged that Sabooni and her co-conspirators had evaded licensing requirements and concealed their activities from the US government to avoid penalties,” said a crime branch source.

The source added that Sabooni conspired to export and exported 13 different types of aircraft parts, designated as defence articles in the US, to UAE and a third country without proper authorisation from the US.

Among the aircraft parts illegally shipped are parts for the F-5 (“TIGER) fighter jet, the Bell AH-1 (“COBRA”) attack helicopter, the CH-53 military helicopter, the F-14 (“TOMCAT”) fighter jet and the UH-1 (“HUEY”) military helicopter, police sources said.

“All of the military parts exported were manufactured in the US, designed exclusively for military use and have been designated by the US Department of State as “defence articles”, thus requiring registration and licensing with the Department of State,” the officer said.

Explaining the conspiracy hatched by the accused to ship the articles, an officer said, on March 4, 2008, Sabooni, who knew about the requirements, sent an email to accomplice Mohammad Javad Mohammad Esmaeil telling him that Sea Speed will be able to transfer the money for the purchase of the articles.

Next day, Esmaeil sent an email to Sabooni directing her to transfer approximately $147,810 to the bank account of an accomplice in Novato, California. On March 6, Sabooni sent an email to Esmaeil regarding the money transfer, explaining why the money was transferred in two instalments from two banks and that it had been transferred to the account of the accomplice in California.

“On March 11, 2008, Sabooni sent an email to Esmaeil telling him that money had been transferred from the City Bank of Dubai to the account of their California accomplice. Sabooni, Esmaeil, Reza Ahedi Pour and Amir Hossein Atabaki sent orders by email to an accomplice in Novato for special aircraft parts,” said a crime branch officer.

He said that the accomplice in California then requested quotations, usually by email, from another accomplice in Plantation, Florida, and made arrangements with him for the sale and shipment of the parts to one of several accomplices, including Mohammad Javid Sabouni, in Dubai. “From Dubai, the parts were shipped on to another country, thereby avoiding licensing and authorisation requirements of the US,” the officer said.

The accused have been charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act, and money laundering. A US court had issued an arrest warrant against Sabooni and others in 2009.

A Mumbai court remanded Sabooni in judicial custody till January 23. “We will get a production warrant from the Delhi and extradite her to the US,” said inspector Shalini Sharma of crime branch.

All about her
Shahin Sabooni, a representative of Dubai-based company Sea Speed, holds a Canadian citizenship. She used to be a Pune resident. After marriage, she settled in Tehran, Iran. Between January 2004 and May 2008, she illegally exported military aircraft parts.

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