British millionaire pleads guilty in Iran missile scheme

SAN ANTONIO Thu Nov 1, 2012 5:05pm EDT

British millionaire Christopher Tappin poses outside the offices of his lawyer Dan Cogdell in Houston April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Richard Carson

British millionaire Christopher Tappin poses outside the offices of his lawyer Dan Cogdell in Houston April 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Richard Carson

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - British millionaire Christopher Tappin pleaded guilty in federal court in Texas on Thursday to charges of attempting to sell missile parts to Iran, prosecutors said.

Tappin, 66, from Orpington, Kent, who had previously pleaded not guilty, reversed that stance in federal court in El Paso as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that calls for a sentence of 33 months in prison and a fine of more than $11,000, according to U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.

Federal prosecutors say Tappin, a retired shipping magnate, and two other men sought to ship zinc/silver oxide batteries for Hawk Air Defense Missiles to Iran via the Netherlands.

One of the middlemen turned out to be an undercover U.S. customs agent.

"Mr. Tappin stated under oath that he was guilty of aiding the attempted export to Iran of sensitive military equipment," Pitman said in a statement. "In so doing, the defendant put at risk the national security of the United States and its allies by trying to sell to Iran the batteries that make the Hawk Missiles operational."

The two other men involved in the scheme, which began in late 2005 and ended with Tappin's arrest in early 2007, have been sentenced to terms of 20 and 24 months in federal prison.

Tappin was extradited to the U.S. earlier this year following a two-year legal battle. He is free on bond pending his sentencing, which is scheduled for January 9.

Prosecutors have said they will not object to Tappin's sentence being served in England so he can be close to his ill wife and other family members. He had faced up to 35 years in prison.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Eric Walsh)

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Comments (4)
CaptRichie wrote:
Acting as an agent of a sworn enemy committed to our destruction, I would have given him life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Nov 01, 2012 5:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
patrickjane wrote:
So $11,000 for a billionaire what is that, like coffee money? Such a deal, he will not spend all that time in jail either, I bet he gets time served and early parole.

Nov 01, 2012 5:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Despicable dictators mock trial… and another political prisoner is made example of.

Almost every one of these bombers, assasins and criminals aiding the enemy or foreign terrorist groups has been set up by the FBI.

The FBI are going around encouraging people and even threatening people into plotting attacks etc.. and then busting them when they do.

There have been so many examples of this lately it makes me sick!

Reuters has not provided specifics but you will probably find this is an over the counter battery.

And does the supply of a battery for a defensive missile with a range of 100km endanger the ‘national security of the United States’???

Bloody ridiculous!!

Dictators laws, dictators media…

Nov 01, 2012 6:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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