American citizen of Armenian origin Ara Dolarian, 58, was arrested on Wednesday, May 15, on a criminal complaint charging him with illegally brokering the sale of military-grade arms and munitions, money laundering, and conspiracy, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Dolarian was the owner and president of Dolarian Capital Inc. (DCI), an arms brokering company operating in Fresno; Washington, DC; and Sophia, Bulgaria.
Beginning in 2013 and continuing through 2014, the U.S. Department of State denied DCI licenses to broker international arms deals, but he company allegedly attempted to broker broker a multi-million dollar transfer of high explosive bombs, rockets, military-grade firearms, and aircraft-mounted cannons from Eastern Europe and South Africa to the government of Nigeria.
In furtherance of this arms deal, it is alleged that in June 2014, Dolarian executed sales contracts with Societe D’Equipments Internationaux (SEI), a French arms brokering company acting on behalf of Nigeria, for the purchase and transfer of high explosive bombs, rockets, military-grade firearms, and aircraft-mounted cannons worth more than $8.5 million.
Dolarian submitted a brokering application with the U.S. State Department in June 2014 for the proposed deal with Nigeria. This brokering application, along with a later one, was never approved by the State Department.
Without approval from the State Department, Dolarian allegedly accepted approximately $8.3 million from Nigeria and its broker, SEI.
Dolarian made his initial appearance on the charges on Thursday and is scheduled for a detention hearing on May 20.
If convicted of unlicensed arms brokering, Dolarian faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine; a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy, and a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 or up to twice the value of the property involved in the transactions, whichever is greater for money laundering.