Saturday, January 18, 2020

Unsealed warrant details plot to smuggle Racine products to Iranian military


Federal search warrants unsealed Thursday shed additional light on the plot by a Turkish man to smuggle U.S.-made products from Wisconsin to Iran to boost the country's maritime military readiness.
Known for its marine products, Twin Disc, a Racine company, touts its ability to "put horsepower to work." According to federal court records, the company is the exclusive maker of the ASD14 Arneson Surface Drive, which has been described as one of the most efficient marine propulsion systems in the world.
It is that product which was the focus of the scheme to get the drives from the United States to Iran for the purpose of boosting the power of a high-speed missile attack boat in the Iranian Navy, the court records show.
Resit Tavan, a Turkish national, was the person who tried to carry out the task, which U.S. official said put national security at risk.
The search warrants show Tavan tried to send multiple drives to a Turkish front company which had been described by U.S. agencies as "supporting illicit Iranian actors."
Federal investigators managed to get their hands on invoices and emails to foil the plot.
"We are directly procuring the Arnesons from America," one email message said according to the documents. "Consequently, in their view, they will perceive that the project has never been realized."
Agents arrested Tavan in Romania in 2017 and extradited him to Wisconsin late that year.
He eventually pleaded guilty to speed up his deportation to Turkey.
When Tavan was sentenced, federal officials said at the time, a co-defendant, Fulya Kalafatoglu Oguzturk, who was also a Turkish citizen, was at large as a fugitive.
A spokesperson for the United States Attorney's Office in Milwaukee did not immediately respond to questions on Oguzturk's whereabouts.

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