An Irish trading company and three of its officers have been charged with sending helicopter engines and other aircraft parts to Iran as part of Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad’s alleged weapons-smuggling ring.

The 25-count indictment unsealed in federal court in Washington Tuesday charges the Mac Aviation Group and the three men of buying goods from U.S. companies and sending them to Iran using front companies in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

As reported first by the Center for Investigative Reporting and The Washington Post, Khoshnevisrad was charged March 16 with multiple export-related crimes for allegedly running a major procurement scheme to acquire millions of dollars worth of U.S. parts for military helicopters and jet fighters for use by Iran’s military. He was arrested March 14 after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on a flight from Europe.

Mac Aviation is the unidentified Irish trading company mentioned in the criminal complaint against Khoshnevisrad that allegedly helped him procure the U.S.-made goods that ultimately ended up in Iran, including 17 Rolls Royce helicopter engines.

The Justice Department is seeking the arrest and deportation of the company’s three Irish officers—owner Thomas McGuinn, 72; his son Sean McGuinn, 40, who is the sales director; and commercial manager Sean Byrne.

In 1996 Thomas McGuinn pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act. He has since been barred by the State Department from engaging in any U.S. export-related activity involving defense goods or services. Exports of the helicopter engines and aircraft parts in the Khoshnevisrad case are regulated by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which regulates exports of so-called dual-use items—goods that can be used both for civilian and military purposes.

Calls to the Bureau of Industry and Security and Rolls Royce, the maker of the helicopter engines, were not returned.


  • DOJ release on Khoshnevisrad (March 16, 2009)
  • DOJ release on announcement (March 24, 2009)
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    Shahien Nasiripour

    Shahien joined CIR in 2008 and covers the federal judiciary. His work at CIR has been published by Truthdig, California Lawyer magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review. Previously, he worked as a researcher for ESPN and as a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Providence Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.