Singaporeans in US to face Iran-trade charges

A buried bomb blast in 2007 in Iraq. Source: Wikimedia

A Singaporean man accused of illegally exporting technology to Iran that was later found in unexploded homemade bombs has been extradited to the USA to face charges, the US Justice Department said.

Lim Yong Nam, also known as Steven Lim, 42, was arrested in Indonesia around 18 months ago and indicted in 2010 on charges including smuggling, illegal export and making false statements to the authorities.

Lim and several other defendants are charged with helping to export thousands of radio frequency modules in 2007 and 2008 to Iran that were purchased from an unnamed Minnesota company, and with lying to the US authorities by saying that Singapore was the destination of the goods. Prosecutors claim the modules were exported to Iran via Singapore.

They say that after the modules arrived in Singapore, they were forwarded to Iran by airfreight through other countries in an illegal route to Iran.

Singaporeans Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson have also been extradited, prosecutors said.

Lim had been detained in Indonesia since October 2014, the Justice Department said. “After a long investigative process, Mr Lim is back on US soil to answer for his actions,” said Sarah Saldana of the Department of Homeland Security.

Lim told the US he was unaware of restrictions on exports to Iran, even though prosecutors claim he contacted another defendant many times to discuss the restrictions.

At least 16 of the modules, which have a range of applications, were later found in unexploded bombs in Iraq. The indictment describes homemade bombs, or IEDs as the military calls them, as the main threat to US troops in Iraq. They caused about 60 per cent of US combat casualties in Iraq between 2001 and 2007.

“The illegal export of restricted US technology is extremely harmful to our national security,” Michael Steinbach of the FBI said. “In this case the technology had lethal applications and was used in improvised explosive devices in Iraq, which endangered U.S. and coalition forces. ”

Lim is due to appear before a federal magistrate judge in Washington today (Tuesday).