WASHINGTON: A Pakistani national has been arrested and charged with a scheme to illegally export nuclear-related materials to his home country from the United States, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday.
Nadeem Akhtar, 45, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, a Washington suburb, was indicted for conspiring with others to illegally export restricted goods and technology to a Pakistani nuclear power plant and a Pakistani research commission.
With an unidentified co-defendant, the alleged scheme began late in 2005 and lasted until March of last year, officials said. Most of the illegal exports took place between 2005 and 2008.
"This arrest is the product of a vigorous, cooperative joint-agency investigation focused on denying and disrupting the illegal export of controlled nuclear technology destined for Pakistan," said Eric Hirschhorn, the undersecretary of commerce for industry and security.
Washington has long shown concern over Pakistan's nuclear programme.
The indictment alleged that Akhtar worked on behalf of the co-defendant who had business relationships with Pakistan government entities and who obtained the items from the United States and other nations.
The indictment alleges that Akhtar and his co-defendant transferred funds from Pakistan and Dubai to bank accounts in the United States.
Akhtar, who owns a company called Computer Communication USA, was specifically accused of illegally exporting radiation detection devices, resins for coolant water purification, calibration and switching equipment, and surface refinishing abrasives. All of those items require an export license because they can be used in activities related to nuclear reactors and the processing and production of nuclear material, the Justice Department said.
The indictment alleged that Akhtar attempted to conceal the ultimate end use of the items and their true value by putting misleading or incomplete information on documents such as invoices and purchase orders.
If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit export violations and defraud the United States, up to 20 years in prison for unlawful export of goods, and up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Akhtar had an initial appearance in federal court on Wednesday in Baltimore and was ordered detained pending another hearing on Thursday.
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