IEEPA, Ireland, and Iran

The United States Department of Justice has announced that an Irish firm has been charged in a 25-count indictment for providing “sensitive technology” to Iran.  (Link.)  The charges are broken down like this:  there are two counts of conspiracy, nineteen counts of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers (IEEPA) Act, four counts of false statements, and forfeiture allegations.

The defendants in the case are: Mac Aviation Group; Thomas McGuinn; Sean McGuinn; and Sean Byrne.  All entities and people are located in Ireland, it appears. How then, does the United States find its extraterritorial jurisdiction, which expanded greatly under the Bush Administration?

According to the DOJ presser, it is alleged that helicopter engines and other aircraft components were purchased from U.S. firms and then transshipped to Iran using companies in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.  The engines were manufactured by Rolls Royce in Indiana, and the “other aircraft components” include 50 “‘5th stage vanes'” and 32 bolts.  Yeah, bolts.

IEEPA is a tough little statute.  1977 Congress passed the legislation and, while it sought to clarify the President’s powers, it nonetheless gives the President an enormous amount of power.  One of these powers is to issue regulations relating to trade, including foreign entities which transship American products, and if a person violates those regulations, he can be punished with up to 20 years in prison.  See 50 U.S.C. § 1705(b).

One other thing: an AP story, which I think has been expanded in the, states that the United States is seeking the arrest and deportation of the individuals.  It would be awfully surprising if Ireland “deported” its own citizens to the United States for trial.  What is likely meant is “extradition,” which is a vastly different process.  And it’s worth noting, too, that Ireland has a reputation as a troublesome extradition partner of late, though that may be changing.