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Two American men were arrested on Thursday for allegedly selling aviation tech to Russia in violation of US sanctions. The bombshell case broke as tensions continued to mount between the US and Russia over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Douglas Robertson are charged with conspiracy, exporting controlled goods without a license.
They also face charges of falsifying and failing to file electronic export information and smuggling goods in violation of US law.
The charges come as the US has drastically ramped up sanctions and financial penalties on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022.
Along with thousands of sanctions on people and firms, export controls on the Kremlin are meant to limit access to computer chips and other products needed to equip a modern military.
They face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Lawyers for Buyanovsky and Robertson couldn’t be identified from the provided documents, and the Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for their information.
The Justice Department says the two men owned and operated KanRus Trading Co., which allegedly supplied aircraft electronics to Russian companies.
They also provided repair services for equipment used in Russian-manufactured aircraft.
READ MORE: Woman plunges from from six-storey building and walks home unharmedThe indictment says that since 2020, the pair conspired to evade US sanctions by concealing and misstating the true end users and destinations of their exports and by shipping equipment through third-party countries.
A KanRus shipment in February 2022 was flagged by the Department of Commerce because it did not have the proper licensing, according to the indictment.
Soon after, Robertson, a commercial pilot, allegedly told a Russia-based client that “things are complicated in the USA” and that invoices needed to be less than $50,000 because otherwise there would be “more paperwork and visibility,” adding “this is NOT the right time for either.”
A shipment to that Russian client was later sent through Laos, prosecutors claim.
The FBI and the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement are investigating the case.
Matthew Axelrod, assistant secretary for export enforcement at the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, said at an American Bar Association event in Miami Thursday that Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are trying to “take advantage of rapid advances in technology.”
He added that sensitive technologies being sent to these countries are “top of our list from an enforcement perspective.”
Since the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, US officials have said they would increase enforcement and sanctions on people and entities that assist Russia in the procurement of weaponry and technology that would bolster its military.
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