Man admits smuggling $65 mn in electronics from US to Russia

12th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

A Russian-American pleaded guilty Thursday to smuggling $65 million worth of electronic components to Russia including parts that ended up in the hands of Moscow's security services and nuclear experts.

Alexander Brazhnikov Jr, 36, a naturalized US citizen born in Moscow, ran an elaborate scheme with the help of his father to illegally transport the components from America to Russia in violation of export control laws, the Department of Justice said.

Between 2008 and 2014, Brazhnikov operated four microelectronics export firms in New Jersey that surreptitiously acquired license-controlled electronic components from American manufacturers and exported these to Russia.

The shipments were made on behalf of Russian businesses that were authorized to supply Russia's defense ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB, formerly the KGB) and even Russian entities involved in the design of nuclear warheads and weapons.

Brazhnikov "significantly undermined the national security of the US by procuring sophisticated, high-tech electronic components and smuggling them into Russia, thereby enhancing the capabilities of the Russian intelligence service and contributing to the modernization of both the Russian military service and the Russian nuclear weapons program," Richard Frankel, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's special agent in charge on the case, said in a statement.

Brazhnikov conspired with his father, who owns a Moscow-based procurement firm, to purchase the components. He routinely falsified the true identity of the eventual customer and their true value in order to avoid filling out export control forms, authorities said.

Brazhnikov pleaded guilty in New Jersey to conspiracy to smuggle electronics from the United States, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

The money laundering charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and the other two charges could each bring five years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing was scheduled for September 15.

© 2015 AFP

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