China Aviation Law
26Jun/11Off

Chinese Aviation Execs Violate US Arms Embargo

For want of a pROM chip, aerospace execs went to jail.

Last September, two Chinese nationals were arrested in Hungary and transferred to US custody in April. They were charged with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and to smuggle goods from the U.S., and the attempted export of munitions in violation of the act.

Hong Wei Xian, 32, and Li Li, 33, both from the PRC, were charged in a two-count indictment accusing them of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and to smuggle goods from the United States and the attempted export of U.S. Munitions List items in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

According to the indictment, Xian is the president of Beijing Starcreates Space Science and Technology Development Company Limited, and Li is the company’s vice president. Among other things, Beijing Starcreates engages in the business of importing and selling programmable read-only memory microchips to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which is controlled by the PRC government and plays a substantial role in the research, design, development and production of strategic and tactical missile systems and launch vehicles for the PRC.

 

Since 1990, the U.S. government has maintained an arms embargo against the PRC that prohibits the export, re-export, or re-transfer of any defense article to the PRC. Prohibited defense articles are placed on the U.S. Munitions List, which includes spacecraft systems and associated equipment. A programmable read-only memory microchip (PROM) serves to store the initial start-up program for a computer system and is built to withstand the conditions present in outer space.

According to the indictment, neither Xian nor Li applied for nor received a license from the United States to export defense articles of any description; however, from April 2009 to Sept. 1, 2010, the two are charged with contacting a company in the Eastern District of Virginia and seeking to export thousands of radiation-hardened PROMs from that company.

The indictment states that Xian and Li knew a license was required, but did not seek to obtain one because it was difficult, time-consuming, and would require them to identify the end user and describe the end use. They are accused of conspiring to break up orders into multiple shipments and designate countries outside of the PRC for delivery to avoid drawing attention to the orders.

On Sept. 1, 2010, the defendants were arrested in Hungary pursuant to a U.S. provisional arrest warrant and were transferred into the custody of U.S. Marshals on April 1, 2011, after they waived extradition. They arrived in the Eastern District of Virginia late April 1, 2011.

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/April/11-nsd-422.html

 

Analysis and Source Documents after the Break.