DOJ announces five criminal cases over China- and Russia-led efforts to steal US technologies News
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DOJ announces five criminal cases over China- and Russia-led efforts to steal US technologies

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Tuesday five new criminal cases and four arrests in connection with a multi-agency US task force, known as the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, to keep sensitive technology away from “hostile nation-states.” The criminal cases focused on foreign actors connected with Russia and China who, the DOJ claims, attempted to steal technology and weapons materials from the US.

In the first case, US v. Bogonikolos, a Greek national working as a defense contractor for NATO and other ally countriesknown as Nikolaos Bogonikolosis accused of “double dealing” in an effort to smuggle US military and dual-use technologies to Russia. From 2017 to May 2023, the DOJ found that Bogonikolos used his company, Aratos Group, to provide the Russian military and Russian research facilities with advanced electronics, sophisticated testing equipment and tactical battlefield equipment. Bogonikolos is charged with wire fraud conspiracy and smuggling goods from the US.

The second case, US v. Besedin and Patsulya, pertains to two Russian nationalsVasilii Sergeyevich Besedin and Oleg Sergeyevich Patsulyaarrested on charges of conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and conspiracy to commit international money laundering. Both individuals are accused of using their Florida company to “evade U.S. export laws and regulations to send aircraft parts to Russian airline companies” between May 2022 and May 2023. Besedin and Patsulya used intermediary companies to disguise their true Russian clients from US regulators, who cracked down on dealings with Russia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the third case, US v. Li, the DOJ arrested Liming Li on May 6 in connection with stolen trade secrets. Allegedly, Li stole manufacturing technology files to provide to Chinese businesses and government entities. The US Attorney leading the case, Martin Estrada, said “Li stole thousands of files of sensitive technology that did not belong to him and used it to help foreign companies building competing technology…that could be used…[to] manufacture…submarines and military aircraft.”

In the fourth case, US v. Wang, the DOJ accused Weibao Wang of stealing proprietary technology from Apple, his former employer, to furnish to individuals in China. While at Apple, Wang worked with a team designing autonomous systems software for applications such as self-driving cars. Immediately before ending his employment with Apple in 2018, Wang accessed “large amounts of sensitive proprietary and confidential information.” Wang is charged with theft and attempted theft of trade secrets.

The fifth case, US v. Xiangjiang Qiao, concerns DOJ claims that Qiao, a Chinese national, cooperated with a sanctioned Chinese company, Sinotech Dalian Carbon and Graphite Manufacturing Corporation, to provide materials used to produce ballistic missiles to Iran. Between 2019 and September 2022, Qiao allegedly conspired with Sinotech Dalian to send isostatic graphite to Iran. Qiao was then paid through US banks. Qiao is charged with multiple violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to commit bank fraud, attempted bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Disruptive Technology Strike Force is a joint task force involving members of the DOJ and the Department of Commerce. It was first launched back in February as an effort “to target illicit actors, strengthen supply chains and protect critical technological assets from being acquired or used by nation-state adversaries.” Tuesday’s charges are the first brought by the task force.