Three Arrested for Illegally Exporting Tech Components to Russia

Alleged Scheme to Violate U.S. Sanctions and Wire Fraud

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that three people have been arrested and charged with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions and commit wire fraud by illegally exporting millions of dollars worth of technology components to Russia. The components are allegedly used in military equipment and weapons systems by Russian entities, some of which have been found in Ukraine.

The three defendants are Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, 52, of Brooklyn, New York; Nikolay Goltsev, 37, and Kristina Puzyreva, 32, both of Montreal, Canada. Nasriddinov is a dual citizen of Russia and Tajikistan, while Goltsev and Puzyreva are Canadian citizens.

According to the criminal complaint, the defendants participated in a global procurement scheme on behalf of sanctioned Russian entities, including companies linked to the country’s military and intelligence agencies. The defendants allegedly bought electronic components from U.S. companies and then shipped them to various countries, such as Turkey, Hong Kong, India, China and the United Arab Emirates, where they were rerouted to Russia.

Three Arrested for Illegally Exporting Tech Components to Russia

The components included semiconductors, integrated circuits and other dual-use electronic components that have both civilian and military applications. The complaint states that some of these components were later found in Russian weapons and signal intelligence equipment that were seized in Ukraine by the Ukrainian military.

U.S. Sanctions and Export Controls on Russia

The U.S. has imposed several rounds of sanctions and export controls on Russia since 2014, in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, its use of chemical weapons against dissidents and its military aggression in Ukraine and other countries.

The sanctions target individuals, entities and sectors of the Russian economy that are involved in or support these activities. The export controls restrict the transfer of certain items, technology and services to Russia that could be used for military or intelligence purposes.

The complaint alleges that the defendants were aware that the components they were shipping to Russia had military uses and that they were subject to U.S. sanctions and export controls. The defendants allegedly used aliases, false invoices, fake shipping labels and other methods to conceal the true nature and destination of the shipments. They also allegedly used bank accounts and financial transactions that were controlled by Puzyreva to facilitate the scheme.

The complaint further alleges that the defendants communicated with each other and with their Russian customers using encrypted messaging applications and email accounts. They also allegedly discussed the risks of being caught by U.S. authorities and the need to avoid detection.

Arrests and Charges

The defendants were arrested on Tuesday in New York City. Nasriddinov was arrested in Brooklyn, while Goltsev and Puzyreva were arrested at a hotel in Manhattan during a trip to visit Nasriddinov.

The defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The charges are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement: “As alleged, the defendants evaded sanctions, shipping equipment to Russia vital for their precision-guided weapons systems, some of which has been used on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis of the Eastern District of New York said: “This case demonstrates our commitment to holding accountable those who seek to undermine our national security by circumventing our sanctions and export control laws.”

Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York said: “These arrests should serve as a warning to anyone who attempts to illegally export sensitive technology from the United States that HSI will use all of its resources to identify, investigate and bring them to justice.

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