British millionaire Christopher Tappin has pleaded guilty in
federal court in Texas to charges of attempting to sell
missile parts to Iran, prosecutors say.
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.
"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 Jan. 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.