Justice Dept. Report Should Serve as Warning to U.S. Exporters

December 13, 2013
By Michelle Kelley

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If you’ve ever doubted how seriously U.S. law enforcement agencies pursue export-related crime, a new report by the Justice Department is likely to change your mind.

The report covers the last six years and includes only a selection of the cases handled by the Justice Department during that time. It’s 89 pages long and details 477 prosecutions of individuals and companies charged with export, economic espionage, trade secret, and embargo-related crimes.

Reading through the report, many U.S. exporters may want to take note of a common thread running throughout a majority of the cases: many of them involve violations related to exporting without a license.

Here are just a few highlights from the report. You can read the full pdf report here.

2013

  • An individual was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and a $1,000 fine for failing to obtain export licenses for sensitive microwave amplifiers shipped to China and India.

2012

  • A Canadian subsidiary of a Connecticut-based defense contractor was ordered to pay $75 million in penalties for numerous export violations, including the illegal export of defense articles to China and several embargoed nations.
  • An individual was sentenced to 10 months in prison and 2 years’ supervised release for selling military-grade riflescopes via eBay to individuals overseas without the required license.
  • A Virginia company agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine and a $42 million settlement for numerous export violations, including illegally exporting satellite phones to Sudan, military training to the Canadian military, technical data about armored tanks to Sweden and Denmark, and ammunition and body armor to Iraq and Afghanistan‒all without an export license.
  • An individual was sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $10 million for conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transaction Regulations by exporting computers and related equipment to Iran through the United Arab Emirates without first obtaining an export license.

2011

  • A New Jersey company was sentenced to 2 years’ probation and ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution to the Department of Defense for illegally exporting defense product specifications to China.

2010

  • A Colorado corporation was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and ordered to forfeit $1 million for exporting defense articles to China, Russia, Turkey, and South Korea without a license.

2009

  • The owner of an export company based in Illinois was sentenced to 2 years’ probation, a $3000 fine, and ordered to forfeit proceeds totaling $59,500 for illegally exporting thermal imaging cameras to South Korea without a license.

2008

  • A Minnesota company was sentenced to 2 years’ probation and a $400,000 fine for submitting false export license applications to the Department of Commerce for a proposed shipment of seismic testing equipment with nuclear applications to an entity in India. Although the company knew the end-user in India would likely use the equipment for nuclear purposes, it falsely certified on license applications that the equipment would be used for non-nuclear purposes only.
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