US sells home of couple illegally working with Syria company

BOSTON (AP): Homeland Security is diverting nearly $650,000 to a victims’ compensation fund from the sale of a suburban Boston home that belonged to a couple authorities say illegally did business with a Syrian electronics company, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The Syrian company was involved in the acquisition of parts that could be used to build improvised explosive devices and used against United States and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, US authorities said.

The $642,702 was recovered through a civil forfeiture action against the former residence of Anni Beurklian, and her husband, Antoine Ajaka, who operated Top Tech US Inc. from the Waltham home, according to a statement from the office of US Attorney Rachael Rollins.

Beurklian and Ajaka fled the US in early 2018 before they were indicted on several charges including illegal provision of services to Syria and smuggling. They are now believed to be in either Lebanon or Syria, prosecutors said.

No defense attorney was listed in court records.

Their business from 2014 until 2018 exported electronics, computer equipment and other items to customers in Lebanon and Syria, according to federal authorities.

One customer was Syria-based EKT Electronics, which the US government alleged was “involved in activities related to the acquisition, attempted acquisition and/or development of improvised explosive devices, which were being used against United States and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The US requires anyone doing business with EKT to obtain an export license, which authorities say Top Tech failed to do.

Beurklian and Ajaka filed a claim to maintain ownership of the home, but last year a federal judge denied the claim under the fugitive disentitlement law, which allows the court to deny a claim in a civil forfeiture case from a person trying to avoid criminal prosecution.

Homeland Security Investigations sold the home for more than $856,000, three-quarters of which will go to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, prosecutors said.