Sunday, March 23, 2008

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A subsidiary of the company that provides cable TV, Internet and telephone services at Yokota admitted Tuesday that it tried to cut a deal with a company in Iran, according to court documents.

Allied Telesis Labs Inc. pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in a case in which employees attempted to sell millions of dollars in telecommunications equipment to the Iranian Information Technology Co., in violation of the U.S. economic ban against conducting business with nations deemed a threat to national security.

The events occurred between September 2004 and February 2005.

Allied Telesis Labs is a research and development facility of Allied Telesis Inc., based in Bothell, Wash. Allied Telesis is owned by Allied Telesis Kabushi Kaisha, a global holding company headquartered in Tokyo.

In 2006, Allied Telesis Capital Corp. signed a 15-year contract with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to provide voice, video and data services at Yokota. That occurred after Americable International Inc., the base’s former provider of premium cable TV and broadband Internet, was forced out following a 10-year stay — despite being cleared of wrongdoing in its dealings with the military.

AAFES doesn’t anticipate any service disruption at Yokota or fallout from the criminal proceeding against Allied Telesis Labs since the organization has no direct involvement with the subsidiary named in the U.S. Attorney’s investigation, said Judd Anstey, a spokesman at AAFES’ Dallas headquarters.

AAFES was scheduled to take over phone, cable and Internet at Misawa Air Base later this year. It had considered hiring a subcontractor to deliver integrated services, similar to what’s been done at Yokota and Kadena air bases.

“While AAFES has plans to expand telecommunication, internet and television services throughout the Pacific, they do not involve any specific providers at this time,” Anstey wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Allied Telesis Labs was preparing to sell the equipment despite the embargo, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bowler said during a federal court hearing in Raleigh, N.C., the News & Observer reported Wednesday. It was intended to “rework the telecommunications network” in 20 Iranian cities, including Tehran, he added, according to the newspaper.

Employees at Allied Telesis Labs and related companies made plans for a $95 million contract with the Iranian business, the paper reported. Telecommunications equipment worth about $2 million had been manufactured in Singapore, but the deal fell apart.

The employees linked to the conspiracy were fired, according to the News & Observer. Allied Telesis Labs must pay a $500,000 fine as part of its guilty plea and also faces five years of probation.

Bruse Green, the Yokota Allied business general manager, said Thursday he works for Allied Telesis Capital Corp. and is not in a position to comment on the case.

Americable was banned from competing for new Department of Defense business after a federal jury convicted its former comptroller and other affiliated cable television companies on 72 counts of fraud and money laundering in September 2004. Two years later, the company announced it had reached an agreement with the government to have the “debarment” lifted.

It wanted to remain at Yokota, but base and AAFES officials contended they could not negotiate with Americable during the corporation’s restricted status and had to move ahead with the contract bidding process.

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