Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Percy Anderson, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:07-CR-00513-PA-1.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ikuta, Circuit Judge
Argued and Submitted March 1, 2010 -- Pasadena, California.
Before: Ronald M. Gould and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges, and Lloyd D. George,*fn1 District Judge.
Seyed Mahmood Mousavi appeals from his federal criminal convictions for, among other things, willfully providing services to Iran in violation of the International Economic Emergency Powers Act (IEEPA), 50 U.S.C. § 1705, and the Iranian Transaction Regulations (ITR), 31 C.F.R. § 560.206, commonly referred to as the United States' trade embargo against Iran. Mousavi argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to allow any rational juror to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of willfully violating the ITR. We conclude, viewing the evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to the government, that evidence sufficiently supports Mousavi's conviction under 50 U.S.C. § 1705 and 31 C.F.R. § 560.206. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979).*fn2
Mousavi immigrated to the United States from Iran in the late 1980s, becoming a legal permanent resident in 1991 and a naturalized citizen in 1999. At times relevant to this appeal, Mousavi and his wife owned Mousavi Digital Services, doing business as Global Digital Services, a partnership that installed television satellite systems. At the same time, Mousavi was president of the Hejrat Educational Center, a nonprofit organization that provided services to the Islamic community, and also ran a business that organized travel packages to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage by obtaining necessary visas and arranging flights, hotels, and meals.
In January 2006, agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) discovered evidence of concealed income on Mousavi's 2002 personal and business tax returns. In the resulting investigation, agents found evidence that some of Mousavi's undis-closed income was from a Kuwaiti company, Al Mal Kuwaiti Company (Al Mal), which had entered into an agreement with Mousavi to provide consulting services related to business ventures in Iran. Based on this evidence, a grand jury returned an indictment against Mousavi in March 2008, charging him with, among other things, conducting unlawful dealings with Iran in violation of IEEPA and the ITR. 50 U.S.C. § 1705; 31 C.F.R. § 560.206. A jury trial commenced in district court in April 2008.
At trial, the government presented evidence showing that Mousavi contracted with Al Mal to provide consulting services directed at establishing business ventures in Iran. To that end, the government produced a document entitled "Agreement," signed by Mousavi and Mohammad Al Sager, Chairman and Managing Director of Al Mal, dated June 11, 2002, and two attached documents: one entitled "Incentive Plan," also dated June 11, 2002; and the other a letter from Al Mal's Assistant General Manager to Akbar Torkan, Chairman and Managing Director of Petroparts, Ltd. in Tehran, Iran, dated August 25, 2002.
The Agreement provides, in relevant part:*fn3
The two parties agreed on the following:
1. Al Mal will hire Mr. Mousavi (consultant) to help Al Mal in its endeavor to do the following:
a) To bid for GSM license jointly with Iran Electronic Development Company.
b) To help establishing a bank and leasing Co. with Industrial Development & Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO).
2. The consultants responsibilities will be to follow up with the authorities and concern parties all required steps to help establish and accomplish our planed co-joint projects.
4. Al Mal will hire the consultant for a period of six months for a remuneration of US$50,000 (US $fifty thousand only) to be paid 50% in advance and 15% after reaching a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each ...