President of North Charleston-based firm replaced by company - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Pres. of N. Charleston-based firm faces federal charges, replaced by company

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)-- The Delfin Group has placed their president on administrative leave by the company after he was arrested and charged with illegal exporting to Iran.

Delfin Group, USA is a Russian-owned producer of synthetic motor oils, located in North Charleston.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the president of the company, Markos Baghdasarian, was arrested on Saturday at the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, just prior to boarding an international flight to the United Arab Emirates.

Baghdasarian is charged with exporting goods from the United States to Iran without the required U.S. Department of the Treasury licenses and with making false statements on official government documents.

If convicted, Baghdasarian could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.    

According to the affidavit, from as early as June 13, 2010, until Oct. 12, 2011,  Baghdasarian is alleged to have taken part in illegal transactions with customers in Iran, including Pars Oil, which is an oil company owned by the government of Iran.  Commercial transactions with Iran must be authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The affidavit details an email chain between Baghdasarian and Pars Oil that discusses pricing, appointments with "Iran management people." It also alleges that Baghdasarian frequented the United Arab Emirates where "Iranian businessmen frequently conduct meetings with western companies."

The affidavit also notes that emails were sent discussing how to get around sanctions by labeling the products as a "UAE product" saying "So u are safe Markos is safe."

The affidavit also says that in August 2011, Baghdasarian exported aviation engine oils and polymer valued at $850,000 to Iran.  Investigators believe he did so by hiding the fact that Iranian customers were the recipients of the shipment by falsifying official documents naming a business in the United Arab Emirates as the recipient.

According to court documents the investigation also revealed that the contact information printed on the labels weren't for any oil companies, but for Victoria's Secret.

On Tuesday, the Delfin Group announced that Baghdasarian has been replaced as president and put on administrative leave by the company.

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