US firm pleads guilty to banned exports

A California seller of servers and other computer components has pleaded guilty to selling products to Iran in violation of federal export controls, the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco reported Tuesday.

Super Micro Computer Inc., of San Jose, California, pleaded guilty to one felony count of knowingly exporting items subject to export regulations without obtaining a license and has agreed to pay a US$150,000 fine, according to a statement from the office of Kevin V. Ryan, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. The company entered the plea in federal District Court Monday in response to a federal complaint against it filed Sept. 1.

Super Micro Computer, which sells high-end servers, computer cases, motherboards and other components, reportedly sold the equipment when exporting to Iran “was banned at the time for reasons of national security,” according to the U.S. Attorney.

According to the plea agreement approved by federal District Judge Ronald M. Whyte, Super Micro sold 300 computer motherboards worth about $27,600 between Dec. 28, 2001, and Jan. 29, 2002, to a company named Super Net in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, “knowing that the items were to be transhipped to Iran,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office release stated.

The charges were the result of an investigation by a unit within the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Criminal Division of the Internal Revenue Service. As a result of the investigation, Super Micro revised its export controls in 2004. The government has been monitoring Super Micro’s export activities since then and has found no new violations.

According to Commerce Department records, this is one of the first criminal convictions in the U.S. for exporting items controlled for national security reasons to Iran.

Super Micro was founded in 1993 by President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Liang.

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