NEW YORK – The head of an international metallurgical company has been arrested on charges he illegally exported to Iran a specialized powder used in aerospace and in building missiles, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Erdal Kuyumcu and other people at the company, Global Metallurgy LLC, conspired to obtain more than a thousand pounds of the cobalt-nickel metallic powder to send it without federal agency approval, prosecutors said.
The powder is used as a thermal spray to protect surfaces against corrosion at high temperatures. It also has some nuclear applications, prosecutors said.
Kuyumcu was accused of exporting the power twice to Iran via Turkey without first obtaining the required export control license. Prosecutors said he and others used coded language, calling Iran "the neighbor" when discussing sending the powder, according to court papers unsealed Tuesday.
If convicted, Kuyumcu, of New York, could face up to 20 years in prison. Kuyumcu, 44, appeared in federal court Tuesday and was put in home detention and ordered to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, prosecutors said. His attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment; a call to his company rang unanswered, and an email wasn't immediately returned.
According to Global Metallurgy's website, the company is a provider of specialty metal products, services and supply chain solutions. It operates in North and South America, Europe and Asia.
Last month, four people were indicted on charges they conspired to violate trade sanctions by sending technical equipment to Iran.
The arrests come after the breakthrough U.S-Iran nuclear deal, in which the U.S. agreed to drop charges against 14 Iranian nationals, some of whom were accused of trying to send arms and electronic test equipment there. The landmark agreement brought about the lifting of international sanctions after the United Nations verified that Iran had curbed its nuclear activities.