May 28, 2015

Los Angeles Businessman Pleads Guilty to Operating an Unlicensed Business That Transferred Over $17 Million Between U.S. and Iran

LOS ANGELES—The owner of a Los Angeles-based international food distribution company pleaded guilty this afternoon to a federal charge of operating an unlicensed money transmittal business through which more than $17 million was transferred between Iran and the United States.

Ali Amin, a 57-year-old resident of the Bel-Air district of Los Angeles, also pleaded guilty today to tax fraud and failing to disclose to the Internal Revenue Service bank accounts in Switzerland.

Amin owns Primex International Trading Company, Inc. (Pitco), a producer and distributor of dried fruit and nut products to domestic and international markets that is based near Los Angeles International Airport. Since 2007, Amin has also owned a 50 percent interest in Amin Padidar Limited, a processor and distributor of pistachios that is based in Tehran, Iran.

According to court documents, from 2007 through 2011, Amin used bank accounts of Amin Padidar in Tehran, an account in Switzerland, an Amin Padidar affiliate, and Pitco in the United States, to transfer money from persons in Iran to persons in the United States designated to receive the money. To effect the transfers, people in Iran, typically Amin’s friends and family members, first deposited Iranian rials with Amin Padidar in Iran. Upon confirmation of the receipt of those funds, Amin directed Pitco to transfer an equivalent amount of money from domestic Pitco accounts to the United States-based bank account of people designated to receive the funds. Amin would also use a bank account in Switzerland to transfer funds from Iran to the United States for family members of Amin.

When he pleaded guilty today, Amin also admitted that he failed to disclose to the IRS an account at HypoSwiss Private Bank in Switzerland that he controlled. Amin also pleaded guilty to subscribing to a false tax return, admitting that he failed to disclose approximately $3.4 million in income to the IRS from 2007 to 2011.

Amin pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on January 25, 2016.

As a result of his pleading guilty to the three felony charges, Amin faces a maximum statutory sentence of 18 years in federal prison.

The investigation into Amin was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS—Criminal Investigation.