A professor at the University of Miami has been taken into custody by federal authorities and charged with allegedly stealing advanced medical equipment and attempting to smuggle it into Iran. As stated in a new report by the Washington Free Beacon, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Dr. Mohammad Faghihi, has been charged in a court in Miami with “conspiracy to commit money laundering, unlawful export to Iran, and making false statements.”
Faghihi was born and raised in Iran before moving to the United States legally back in 2005. He started his affiliation with the University of Miami back in 2013. As stated in a criminal complaint, Faghihi owned and operated a small business with his wife and sister. The business in question was taking payments from companies in Malaysia, Singapore, China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates from 2016 to 2020.
In addition, both his sister and wife are also looking down the barrel of multiple federal charges in relation to the activities of the University of Miami professor.
As stated in the federal complaint, the payments being received by Faghihi’s small business from multiple overseas entities helped to finance the purchase of a series of American genetic sequencing equipment. As reported by the Free Beacon’s statements, the exports “were not authorized” by the United States.
The actions taken by Faghihi require permission from the Treasury Department and at the same time violated the current economic sanctions against Iran in place by America. The authorities on the case have alleged that the professor took many excruciating steps in order to conceal these purchases and exports from the federal government.
“Those third-country international wires [are] indicative of money laundering designed to conceal that payment originated in Iran,” stated the complaint.
The Free Beacon also reported that federal authorities were able to recover a series of WhatsApp messages that indicate that Faghihi communicated with quite a few overseas parties concerning the sequencing devices.
“In one May 2017 message, [Faghihi] told an unnamed professor with an Iranian phone number that he had procured two sequencing devices in the United States and installed them at a lab at Shiraz University, a major research institution in southwest Iran” reported the outlet. Shiraz University has quite a few ties to the Iranian government.
As stated in the criminal complaint, “the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any goods, technology, or services to Iran or the Government of Iran, including the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply of any goods, technology or services to a person in a third country undertaken with knowledge or reason to know that such goods, technology or services are intended specifically for supply, trans-shipment, or reexportation, directly or indirectly to Iran or the Government of Iran” is in violation of U.S. law.
Other charges on the docket laid against the professor include the procurement of fraudulent research grants from the National Institutes of Health and making false statements to federal authorities.