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Iranian finance firm's CEO pleads guilty to multimillion-dollar fraud conspiracy in Minnesota


Seyed Sajjad Shahidian, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday in a federal court in Minneapolis to a conspiracy charge related to financial transactions with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

The chief executive of an Iranian online financial services company pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud conspiracy charges that federal prosecutors in Minnesota said involved millions of dollars in transactions violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Seyed Sajjad Shahidian, the 33-year-old founder of Payment24, admitted Tuesday to conducting 21 illegal transactions with Minnetonka-based Digital River using a $1.8 million PayPal account acquired with fake residency documents. Citing records obtained from PayPal, federal prosecutors said Shahidian also controlled a $6 million PayPal account acquired under similar fraudulent circumstances. Digital River, meanwhile, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Under the scheme, Shahidian's Payment24 used fake passports and other fraudulent documents to set up online payment accounts its customers could then use to do business with U.S. companies that were otherwise forbidden by U.S. sanctions on Iran.


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