Jury Finds Swede Guilty of Smuggling Arms to Iran
Nov. 18, 1989
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ A federal jury Friday found a Swedish businessman guilty of smuggling military hardware to Iran in violation of the federal Arms Export Control Act.
The jury also found Karl Erik Nissen, 62, guilty of conspiracy and money laundering. He and two Canadians were arrested by U.S. Customs agents who set up a fake company for the investigation.
Jurors found Nissen innocent of three money laundering charges. The jury deliberated all day Thursday and for three hours Friday before reaching a verdict.
Prosecutors said he faces up to 27 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million when sentenced in January.
Nissen, a resident of Norrkoping, Sweden, was arrested May 25 and indicted in connection with the alleged conspiracy to ship military jet parts to Iran without a proper U.S. license.
Nissen's alleged co-conspirators, Ronald Hilton Arab, 52, and Eileen Audrey Arab, 52, both of Vancouver, Canada, pleaded guilty to similar charges in October and agreed to testify against Nissen. They will be sentenced next month.
The three were caught in an undercover investigation by U.S. Customs agents who set up a bogus business at Corpus Christi International Airport.
The government accused Nissen and the Arabs of smuggling 13 air pressure control devices for F-4C Phantom jet fighters. The devices were delivered to Iran in March, officials said. The government said a separate $4.7 million deal was in the works when Nissen and the Arabs were arrested.
Nissen maintained that he was a legitimate broker and unaware the transactions were illegal.
''Mr. Nissen is one of those persons who saw Iran after the revolution (in 1979) as a land of opportunity,'' federal prosecutor Robert Berg said in his closing argument Thursday. ''He got a copy, one way or the other, of an Iranian wish list.''
Defense attorney Bill May argued that Ronald Arab, not Nissen, was the ''con man'' of the alleged scheme.