Canadian Manufacturing

Alberta firm charged for allegedly exporting prohibited commodity to Iran

Lee Specialties Ltd. of Red Deer, Alta., charged after CBSA intercepted Viton O-rings from cargo shipment

April 14, 2014  by Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

CALGARY—The RCMP has charged an Alberta company with shipping a product to Iran that could be used in nuclear applications.

Lee Specialties Ltd. of Red Deer, Alta., faces charges under the Special Economic Measures Act, the Customs Act and the United Nations Act.

Police said the investigation began three years ago after Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers intercepted Viton O-rings from a cargo shipment at Calgary International Airport that was destined for Iran.

Viton is a brand of synthetic rubber that can be used in the oilfields or in a nuclear program.


“Basically the characteristics of the Viton are it is high pressure, high heat that has certain chemical resistencies so it’s used in a lot of different applications—oilfields being one of them,” said RCMP spokesperson Const. Ben Simon.

“In this case it was part of an oilfield system that was being sent over to Iran. The reason it’s prohibited is it can also be used in nuclear applications.”

According to the Lee Specialties website, it designs and manufactures pressure control equipment and other components.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Simon said it had been co-operative during the investigation.

Viton O-rings and gaskets are specifically mentioned in the Special Economic Measures Act as a prohibited item.

They cannot legally be shipped or sold to any person or company in Iran.

Police say it’s believed to be the first time that Special Economic Measures Act charges have been laid in Canada and the third time United Nations Act charges have been filed.

Simon said even though the O-ring was being sent as part of oil equipment, it is still prohibited.

“They may have been used for the oilfield,” he said. “We don’t know the end purpose but you’re not allowed to ship them regardless of whether or not they’re part of an oilfield system.”

Lauren Delgaty, regional director general for the CBSA, said officers aren’t just on the lookout for illegal goods coming into Canada, but for items being unlawfully exported as well.

“This seizure prevented these items, which can be used in nuclear applications, from landing in the wrong hands,” she said.

The shipment was originally seized May 1, 2011.

Simon said the investigation did take a significant amount of time.

“Basically it’s the complexity of the investigation and the amount of time it takes to analyze the appropriate documentation,” he said. “These kind of investigations aren’t very common.”

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