Alleged Russian Agent, His Associates, and Their Businesses Indicted for Ties to Russian Military and Intelligence Agencies – Illegal Exports – Secret US FISA Wiretaps Used

October 3, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 3, 2012 released the following:

“Russian Agent and 10 Other Members of Procurement Network for Russian Military and Intelligence Operating in the U.S. and Russia Indicted in New York

Defendants Also Include Texas- and Russia-Based Corporations; 165 Persons and Companies ‘Designated’ by Commerce Department

BROOKLYN, NY—An indictment was unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging 11 members of a Russian military procurement network operating in the United States and Russia, as well as a Texas-based export company and a Russia-based procurement firm, with illegally exporting high-tech microelectronics from the United States to Russian military and intelligence agencies.

Alexander Fishenko, an owner and executive of the American and Russian companies, is also charged with operating as an unregistered agent of the Russian government inside the United States by illegally procuring the high-tech microelectronics on behalf of the Russian government. The microelectronics allegedly exported to Russia are subject to strict government controls due to their potential use in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems, and detonation triggers.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Stephen L. Morris, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Houston Field Office; Under Secretary of Commerce Eric L. Hirschhorn, Department of Commerce; and Timothy W. Reeves, Special Agent in Charge, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Central Field Office.

The defendants arrested yesterday and today will be arraigned this afternoon before U.S. States Magistrate Judge George C. Hanks, Jr., at the U.S. Courthouse in Houston, where the government will seek their removal to the Eastern District of New York.

In addition to the unsealing of the charges, search warrants were executed today at seven residences and business locations associated with the defendants, and seizure warrants were executed on five bank accounts held by Fishenko and defendant Arc Electronics Inc., the Texas-based export company. In conjunction with the unsealing of these charges, the Department of Commerce has added 165 foreign persons and companies who received, transshipped, or otherwise facilitated the export of controlled commodities by the defendants to its “Entity List.” This designation imposes a license requirement before any commodities can be exported from the United States to these persons or companies and establishes a presumption that no such license will be granted.

The Scheme

As alleged in the indictment, between approximately October 2008 and the present, Fishenko and the other defendants engaged in a surreptitious and systematic conspiracy to obtain advanced, technologically cutting-edge microelectronics from manufacturers and suppliers located within the United States and to export those high-tech goods to Russia, while carefully evading the government licensing system set up to control such exports. The microelectronics shipped to Russia included analog-to-digital converters, static random access memory chips, microcontrollers, and microprocessors. These commodities have applications and are frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems, and detonation triggers. Russia does not produce many of these sophisticated goods domestically.

According to the indictment and a detention motion filed by the government today, defendant Alexander Fishenko was born in what was, at the time, the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, and graduated from the Leningrad Electro-Technical Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. He immigrated to the United States in 1994 and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 2003. In 1998, he founded defendant Arc Electronics Inc. in Houston. Between 2002 and the present, Arc has shipped approximately $50,000,000 worth of microelectronics and other technologies to Russia. Fishenko and his wife are the sole owners of Arc, and Fishenko serves as the company’s president and chief executive officer. Fishenko is also a part owner and executive of defendant Apex System LLC, a Moscow, Russia-based procurement firm. Apex, working through subsidiaries, served as a certified supplier of military equipment for the Russian government. Between 1996 and the present, Fishenko has regularly traveled back and forth between the United States and Russia. Defendant Alexander Posobilov entered the United States from Russia in 2001 and became a naturalized citizen in 2008. He joined Arc in 2004 and serves as its director of procurement. Posobilov was arrested at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on his way to Singapore and Moscow.

The defendants allegedly exported many of these high-tech goods, frequently through intermediary procurement firms, to Russian end users, including Russian military and intelligence agencies. To induce manufacturers and suppliers to sell them these high-tech goods and to evade applicable export controls, the defendants often provided false end-user information in connection with the purchase of the goods, concealed the fact that they were exporters, and falsely classified the goods they exported on export records submitted to the Department of Commerce. For example, in order to obtain microelectronics containing controlled, sensitive technologies, Arc claimed to American suppliers that, rather than exporting goods to Russia, it merely manufactured benign products such as traffic lights. Arc also falsely claimed to be a traffic light manufacturer on its website. In fact, Arc manufactured no goods and operated exclusively as an exporter.

According to the court documents, the defendants went to great lengths to conceal their procurement activities for the Russian military. For example, on one occasion, defendants Posobilov and Yuri Savin, the director of marketing at another Russian procurement firm, discussed how best to conceal the fact that certain goods Savin had purchased from Arc were intended for the Russian military. Savin asked Posobilov, “What can we do if a client is military all over?” Posobilov replied, “We can’t be the ones making things up. You should be the ones.” Similarly, on another occasion, defendant Fishenko directed a Russian procurement company that, when the company provided false end-user information, to “make it up pretty, correctly, and make sure it looks good.” On yet another occasion, Posobilov instructed a Russian procurement company to “make sure that” the end-use certificate indicated “fishing boats and not fishing/anti-submarine ones….Then we’ll be able to start working.”

Despite this subterfuge, according to the documents, the investigation revealed that the defendants were supplying Russian government agencies with sophisticated microelectronics. For example, the investigation uncovered a Russian Ministry of Defense document designating an Apex subsidiary as a company “certified” to procure and deliver military equipment and electronics. The FBI recovered a letter sent by a specialized electronics laboratory of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s primary domestic intelligence agency, to an Apex affiliate regarding certain microchips obtained for the FSB by Arc. The letter stated that the microchips were faulty and demanded that the defendants supply replacement parts.

In addition, in anticipation of an inquiry by the Department of Commerce regarding the export of certain controlled microelectronics, defendants Fishenko, Posobilov, and Arc salesperson Viktoria Klebanova allegedly directed Apex executives Sergey Klinov and Dmitriy Shegurov, as well as other Apex employees, to alter Apex’s website and forge documents regarding certain transactions to hide Apex’s connections to the Russian military. In connection with the cover-up, Apex removed images of Russian military aircraft and missiles and other links to the Russian Ministry of Defense from its website.

The Arc Defendants

In addition to Fishenko, Posobilov, and Klebanova, the indictment charges Arc salespersons Lyudmila Bagdikian, Anastasia Diatlova, Sevinj Taghiyeva, and Svetalina Zagon, as well as Arc shipping manager Shavkat Abdullaev, with one count of conspiring to violate and 21 counts of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and with conspiring to commit wire fraud. According to the indictment, these defendants obtained controlled microelectronics by lying and submitting false information regarding the true nature, users, and intended uses of the high-tech goods, then exporting the goods, without the required licenses, to procurement firms in Russia. The defendants’ principal port of export for these goods was John F. Kennedy International Airport in the Eastern District of New York.

The Foreign Defendants

According to the indictment, in addition to owning and controlling Arc, Fishenko is also a controlling principal of the Russian procurement firm Apex, the defendant Sergey Klinov is the chief executive officer of Apex, and the defendant Dmitriy Shegurov is an employee of Apex. Apex and its affiliates supplied microelectronics to Russian government agencies, including Russian military and intelligence agencies. The defendant Yuri Savin was the director of marketing at Atrilor Ltd., another Russian procurement firm. Klinov, Shegurov, and Savin conspired with Fishenko and the Arc defendants to obtain controlled U.S.-origin microelectronics and to export those technologically sensitive goods to Russia without the required export licenses by falsifying information to hide the true nature, users, and intended uses of the goods. In addition, Fishenko, Posobilov, Klebanova, Klinov, and Shegurov were charged with obstruction of justice, and Fishenko and Arc were charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

The individual defendants face maximum terms of incarceration of five years for the conspiracy charge, 20 years for each of the substantive IEEPA and AECA charges, and 20 years for the obstruction of justice charge. In addition, Fishenko faces a maximum term of incarceration of 20 years for conspiring to commit money laundering and 10 years for acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. The corporate defendants face fines of up to $500,000 for the conspiracy count and $1 million for each of the substantive IEEPA and AECA counts.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants spun an elaborate web of lies to evade the laws that protect our national security. The defendants tried to take advantage of America’s free markets to steal American technologies for the Russian government. But U.S. law enforcement detected, disrupted, and dismantled the defendants’ network,” stated United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. “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.” Ms. Lynch thanked the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas for its assistance in this matter.

“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,” said Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “I applaud the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who worked on this extensive investigation.”

“In this day and time, the ability of foreign countries to illegally acquire sensitive and sophisticated U.S. technology poses a significant threat to both the economic and national security of our nation,” said Houston FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris. “While some countries may leverage our technology for financial gain, many countries hostile to the United States seek to improve their defense capabilities and to modernize their weapons systems at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The FBI will continue to work aggressively with our partners in the U.S. Intelligence Community to protect this technology and hold accountable those companies that willfully choose to violate our U.S. export laws.”

“Today’s action is a perfect example of two of the core benefits of the administration’s export control reform effort—higher enforcement walls around controlled items and extensive coordination and cooperation among the enforcement agencies. I applaud our special agents who worked with the Justice Department in the interagency effort that led to today’s actions,” said Under Secretary of Commerce Eric L. Hirschhorn.

“The receipt of U.S.-made, cutting-edge microelectronics has advanced Russia’s military technological capabilities. NCIS and the Department of the Navy have worked closely with the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Commerce in this investigation due to the potential for significant enhancement of Russian naval weapons systems that would result from the illegal acquisition of these export-controlled technologies,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy W. Reeves, NCIS Central Field Office.

As a result of this case, there may be victims and witnesses who need to contact the agencies involved in the investigation. If your business has been approached by one of the defendants or by someone trying to obtain export-protected, sensitive technology who appeared not to be legitimate, please report that information to businessoutreach@leo.gov. The information will remain confidential and will be handled by the appropriate authorities.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Silver, Hilary Jager, and Claire Kedeshian, as well as Trial Attorney David Recker of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants have not yet been convicted of these offenses.

The Defendants:

Arc Electronics Inc.
Principal Place of Business: Houston, Texas

Apex System LLC
Principal Place of Business: Moscow, Russia

Alexander Fishenko, age 46

Shavkat Abdullaev, age 34

Lyudmila Bagdikian, age 58

Anastasia Diatlova, age 38

Viktoria Klebanova, age 37

Sergey Klinov, age 44

Alexander Posobilov, age 58

Yuri Savin, age 36

Dmitriy Shegurov, age unknown

Sevinj Taghiyeva, age 32

Svetalina Zagon, age 31″

USA v. Fishenko et al., Case No. 1:12-cr-00626-SJ
Federal Criminal Indictment

Letter to the Court Moving for a Permanent Order of Detention

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Members of International Procurement Network Federally Indicted for Allegedly Supplying Iran with U.S. Military Aircraft Components

June 23, 2011

The Department of Justice on June 23, 2011 released the following press release:

Total of 12 Defendants in U.S., France, U.A.E. and Iran Charged

MACON, Ga. – Seven individuals and five corporate entities based in the United States, France, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and Iran have been indicted in the Middle District of Georgia for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to illegally export military components for fighter jets and attack helicopters from the United States to Iran. One of the defendants and his company were sentenced yesterday, with the individual receiving nearly five years in prison. Another defendant and his company have admitted their illegal conduct and also pleaded guilty in the investigation.

Federal prosecutors today unsealed a superseding indictment in Macon, Ga., charging eight of the defendants with conspiring to violate and violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions Regulations, as well as conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and false statement violations. Charges against the four other defendants, who have pleaded guilty in the case, are contained in the original indictment in the investigation that was filed previously.

The indictment and other enforcement actions were announced by Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Michael J. Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia; Brock Nicholson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) office in Atlanta; Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Division; and Robert Luzzi, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Commerce Department, Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) Miami Field Office.

The Defendants

Thus far, four defendants based in the United States have been charged as part of the investigation. They are The Parts Guys LLC, a company in Port Orange, Fla., that maintains a warehouse at the Middle Georgia Municipal Airport in Macon, as well as the president of The Parts Guys, Michael Edward Todd, who is a U.S. national. In addition, Galaxy Aviation Services, a company in St. Charles, Ill., and its president, Hamid Seifi, also known as Hank Seifi, an Iranian-born U.S. national, have been charged.

Todd was arrested last year in Atlanta based on the original indictment in the case. Todd and his company, The Parts Guys, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the AECA on May 9, 2011, and have yet to be sentenced. Federal agents arrested Seifi in Atlanta earlier this year, also based on the original indictment. Seifi and his company, Galaxy Aviation, pleaded guilty on Feb. 24, 2011, to conspiracy to violate the AECA and violating the IEEPA. Yesterday, Seifi was sentenced to 56 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, a fine of $12,500 and forfeiture of $153,950, while Galaxy Aviation, which is now defunct, received a $400 special assessment.

Three defendants based in France have also been indicted as part of the investigation. They are Aerotechnic, a company in Pinsaguel, France, and its president, Philippe Sanchez, a French national, as well as Luc Teuly, a French national and the sales manager of Aerotechnic. Each of these defendants remains a fugitive.

Two defendants based in the U.A.E. have also been indicted in the case. They are Aletra General Trading, a company in Dubai doing business as “Erman & Sultan Trading Co,” and Syed Amir Ahmed Najfi, an Iranian national and purchaser for Aletra. Najfi remains a fugitive.

Three defendants based in Iran have also been charged in the case. They are Sabanican Company, a company in Tehran, and its president, Hassan Seifi, an Iranian national, as well as Reza Seifi, an Iranian national and the managing director of Sabanican Company. Each of these defendants remains at large.

As part of the U.S. government’s coordinated action against this procurement network, the Commerce Department announced today that it will add the eight defendants in France, Iran and the U.A.E. to its “Entity List.” The Entity List provides notice to the public that certain exports, re-exports and transfers (in-country) to parties identified on the Entity List require a license from the Commerce Department, and that availability of license exceptions in such transactions is limited. All eight parties will be added to the Entity List with a licensing requirement for all items subject to the Commerce Department export regulations and with a presumption of denial.

The Charges

According to the charges, the defendants conspired to export components for attack helicopters and fighter jets to Iran without obtaining the required U.S. export licenses. These components included military parts for the Bell AH-1 attack helicopter, the UH-1 Huey attack helicopter, as well as the F-5 and F-4 fighter jets.

Defendant Najfi and his firm in the U.A.E. are alleged to have placed orders and purchased military aircraft parts, including those for the Bell AH-1 attack helicopter, from Todd and his company, The Parts Guys, in the United States. Todd and other conspirators then attempted to and did cause the export of the aircraft parts to the U.A.E.

Defendant Hank Seifi and his firm in Illinois also allegedly placed orders and purchased U.S. aircraft parts from Todd and his company in Georgia — on behalf of Hassan Seifi, Reza Seifi and their company in Iran. According to the charges, Todd and other conspirators then caused these aircraft parts to be exported to Iran via the defendants in France: Sanchez, Teuly and their company, Aerotechnic.

The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, while violating the AECA carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and violating IEEPA carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Money laundering carries a maximum 20 years in prison, while making false statements carries a maximum of five years in prison.

“The defendants in this case are alleged to have conspired to defraud the United States by illegally acquiring and exporting fighter jet and attack helicopter components. Keeping such advanced weaponry, which is designed to protect the men and women of our Armed Forces and to defend our national interests, from falling into the hands of state sponsors of terror has never been more important,” said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

“Through coordinated law enforcement efforts, we have cut off more than a branch of this illegal supply tree; we have cut off the tree at its trunk. These parts have a military purpose, and I am determined to see that they are not used to harm the United States, its soldiers, citizens or friends. This type of criminal activity should remind each of us that we must be ever vigilant in our efforts to protect our national security. The threat is very real, and comes from even the least suspected places, including middle Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.

“The illegal export of U.S. weapons and military technology presents a direct threat to our national security,” said Brock Nicholson, Special Agent-in-Charge of ICE-HSI in Atlanta. “This investigation demonstrates the importance of preventing our military equipment from falling into the wrong hands, where it could potentially be used against our military members, our homeland and our allies. Enforcing U.S. export laws is one of our top priorities, and we will continue working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who put our country at risk are discovered and brought forward for prosecution.”

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent-in-Charge, FBI Atlanta, stated: “The cooperative efforts among the FBI, ICE and U.S. Commerce was critical in bringing this case forward for prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice. The enforcement of U.S. laws that prohibit the acquisition of specified defense related items is paramount to national security and is a daunting task when back dropped against the vast movement of legitimate international trade that occurs every day in the U.S. The FBI is pleased with the role that it has played in this multi-agency enforcement effort.”

“The Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) dedicates one hundred percent of its resources to enforcing export laws, and today’s case is the result of ongoing cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI to protect our national security,” said Robert Luzzi, Special Agent-in-Charge of OEE’s Miami Field Office. “Parties who export to embargoed destinations such as Iran will be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

This case was investigated by ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta, FBI Atlanta Field Division and the Department of Commerce’s OEE.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Kolman and Danial E. Bennett from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and Trial Attorneys Ryan P. Fayhee and Brandon L. Van Grack from the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains mere allegations and that defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

Attached is the Superseding Indictment – Case No. 5:10-CR-58-MTT.

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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