The United States is offering up to $15 million for information regarding Hossein Hatefi Ardakani, an Iranian businessman alleged to have helped acquire technology for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s weapons programs.
“Since 2014, Ardakani has used his network of intermediary companies, including Malaysia- and Hong Kong-based front companies and UAE logistics businesses, to procure and to facilitate the transfer of sensitive U.S.- and foreign-origin materials, components, and technology to the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) for Iran’s weapons programs,” the US Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program said in a statement this week.
These weapons, including the Shahed-136 and Shahed-131 attack drones, “are developed on behalf” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “and then sold on the international market, the statement said, adding that some of those aircraft have been sold to Russia for its use in its war in Ukraine.
“Proceeds from these arms sales directly benefit” the US-sanctioned IRGC, the statement reads.
The US move comes after Washington sanctioned and charged Ardakani with crimes related to his procurement of US-manufactured dual-use microelectronics for the IRGC.
According to the US, Ardakani runs several Tehran-based businesses and a transnational procurement network that has obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of technology that can be used in drones.
US-origin flight guidance components procured by his network have been recovered in the wreckage of Iranian drones in Ukraine and elsewhere, the State Department said.
The European Union, United States, UK and other countries have issued multiple rounds of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its crackdown on dissent and its supply of hundreds of drones to Russia.
The West has also imposed sanctions on Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.