LONDON — “British companies made millions of pounds selling or leasing items to Iranian companies that were the subject of international trade sanctions, US Embassy documents show,”The Daily Telegraph reports.
“America put enormous pressure on the British government to block deals for aircraft and ships that it feared would be used to transport nuclear materials.”
“One of the companies causing most concern was the London-based Balli Group. In February 2008, the US State Department contacted its London Embassy requesting “immediate action” over three Jumbo Jets it believed were bound for Iranian-owned Mahan Air, which is banned from operating within the EC,” the source says.
“The Boeing 747-400 aircraft, owned by a US subsidiary of the Balli Group, were undergoing maintenance in South Korea, but the US had “strong reason to believe” they were bound for Mahan Air,” the daily reads.
“The aircraft were registered to a Balli subsidiary, Blue Airways of Armenia, which “leases all of its aircraft to Mahan Air. Mahan Air is associated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”, the cable stated. It added that “three other airplanes… that were acquired over a year ago by Balli Group have gone into service with Mahan Air,” the source says.
“The US feared the Revolutionary Guard’s “ability to misuse civilian aircraft for nefarious activities” adding that “Iran’s control of additional aircraft could enhance its military capabilities or facilitate its support for international terrorism,” the daily reports.
“In April 2008 the Treasury told US diplomats that it could not intervene because Balli had not broken any British laws, but the US was able to recall the aircraft to America because they had been built there. In February 2010, Balli Aviation, an American subsidiary of Balli Group, agreed to pay $2 million (£1.25 million) in criminal fines and $13 million (£8 million) in civil fines after pleading guilty in a US court to illegally exporting aircraft to Iran. The settlement was one of the largest fines imposed by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security,” the daily reads.

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