Federal authorities arrested a University of Miami professor and charged him with allegedly taking advanced medical equipment and smuggling it into Iran.
According to a new report from the Washington Free Beacon, Dr. Mohammad Faghihi, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, was charged in a Miami court with “conspiracy to commit money laundering, unlawful export to Iran, and making false statements.”
Faghihi was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States legally in 2005. He began his affiliation with the University of Miami in 2013. According to a criminal complaint, Faghihi operated a small business with his wife and sister. The business was receiving payments from companies in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates between 2016 and 2020.
Both his wife and sister are also facing federal criminal charges related to the University of Miami professor’s activities.
According to the federal complaint, the payments Faghihi’s small business was receiving from overseas entities helped finance the purchase of American genetic sequencing equipment. According to the Free Beacon’s reporting, the exports “were not authorized” by the United States.
Faghihi’s actions required permission from the Treasury Department and simultaneously violated America’s current sanctions against Iran. Authorities have alleged that the professor took painstaking steps 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,” the complaint reads.
The Free Beacon reported that federal authorities recovered WhatsApp messages that show Faghihi communicated with multiple overseas parties regarding 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,” the outlet reported. Shiraz University has ties to the Iranian government.
According to 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” violates U.S. law.
Other charges against the professor include the procurement of fraudulent research grants from the National Institutes of Health and making false statements to federal authorities. Faghihi also failed to gain approval for his extended travel outside of the United States. Travel records indicated that he visited Iran regularly, with certain trips that lasted up to four months.
The University of Miami has since removed a page that detailed Faghihi’s research.