By Natalie Caula

The North Charleston man accused of exporting his company’s products to trade-sanctioned Iran is facing a jury this week in federal court. Markos Baghdasarian, 49, former president of Delfin Group USA, is charged with three counts involving illegally exporting goods to Iran and making false statements on federal documents between June 2010 and October 2011, according to federal prosecutors.

The all female jury listened to opening statements made today in downtown Charleston as well as several witnesses called by federal prosecutors.

Elizabeth Cannon, a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division began her arguments by telling the jury about the basis of this case.

“The case you’re about to hear is about one thing, a destination,” she said. “The defendant knew exactly where the products were going.” Baghdasarian shipped $850,000 worth of aviation lubricating oils and polymers to buyers in Iran, in defiance of sanctions, according to court documents. He first shipped the items to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where the goods were repackaged and placed in new containers and shipped to Iran, according to Cannon.

Baghdasarian’s attorney, Bart Daniel, told the jury his client is innocent and did what he was supposed to do. He also told them Baghdasarian, of Armenian descent, will testify later this week and asked the jury to give him the same benefit of the doubt as those with the last name “Smith.”

Daniel argued that Baghdasarian sold his products at normal market price and that black market or illegal items are usually marked much higher. He said his client also checked out his customers before shipping. “Markos did his due diligence before shipping to Dubai,” Daniel said.

The trial is expected to last throughout this week.

Read more in tomorrow’s edition of the Post and Courier.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or