Iranian CEO pleads guilty to conspiracy to violate sanctions

June 16, 2020 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The founder and CEO of an Iranian financial services firm has pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said that Seyed Sajjad Shahidian, 33, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against and to defraud the United States.

Shahidian, a citizen of Iran, was arrested in London on Nov. 11, 2018. He was extradited to the U.S. last month.

According to court documents, Shahidian was founder and former CEO of Payment24, an internet-based financial services company with about 40 employees and offices in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan, Iran.


Prosecutors alleged that the primary business of Payment24 was helping Iranian citizens conduct prohibited financial transactions with businesses based in the United States, including the unlawful purchase and exportation of computer software, software licenses and servers from U.S. companies.

Shahidian admitted to opening hundreds of PayPal accounts on behalf of his Payment24 customers who resided in Iran and to unlawfully bringing millions of U.S. dollars into the economy of Iran.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 15.