The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has revealed that several individuals have been charged on suspicion of illegally exporting high-tech microelectronics from the US to Russia’s intelligence and military agencies.
The main suspects in this operation are 11 individuals working for a Russian military procurement network. Authorities also believe that an export company from Texas - Arc Electronics Inc. - and a procurement firm from Moscow - Apex System LLC - are also in on the illegal activities.
Besides indicting the apparent culprits, the FBI also raided a number of 7 residences and seized 5 bank accounts held by one of the defendants and one of the implicated companies.
Alexander Fishenko, the owner of the Russia- and USA-based companies, is believed to have cleverly bypassed the government licensing systems that regulate the exporting of electronics that can be utilized in military systems.
Since Russia doesn’t produce these microelectronics domestically, the items are of great value, especially because they can be used to develop radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers.
In order to convince the American manufacturers to hand him over the high-tech goods, Fishenko and his wife claimed that their companies were producing traffic lights.
A letter sent by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to an Apex affiliate revealed that even the intelligence agency received some of the microchips.
“Today’s case underscores the importance of safeguarding America’s sensitive technology and our commitment to disrupt and prosecute networks that attempt to illegally export these goods,” explained Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“I applaud the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who worked on this extensive investigation.”
United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch stated, “We will not rest in our efforts to protect the technological advantage produced by American ingenuity. And, we will expose and hold responsible all who break our counter-proliferation laws, particularly those, like Fishenko, who serve foreign governments.”