Russian brought to US on tech smuggling charges

A man has been charged with illegally supplying high-tech military goods to Russia after being extradited to the US.

Arthur Petrov, 33, a dual citizen of Germany and Russia, who was living in Cyprus at the time of his arrest, faces decades behind bars if found guilty by a federal court in New York. He stands accused of using front companies to conceal the true destination of $225,000 of military-use microelectronics that he allegedly imported from the US.

Washington has banned the export of military-use technologies to Russia since the latter’s decision to invade Ukraine last February.

Petrov allegedly worked with two accomplices, known only as CC-1 and CC-2, for Russian military hardware supplier Electrokom VPK, tricking US exporters into supplying them with the banned tech goods by using a Cyprus-based shell company, Astrafteros Technokosmos, to conduct transactions.

“The technology that Petrov and his co-conspirators procured have significant military applications and include various types of electronics components of the sort that have been recovered in Russian military hardware on the battlefield in Ukraine, such as Russian guided missiles, drones, and electronic warfare and communications devices,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ), announcing the charges.

It added: “Petrov procured these sensitive electronics components by falsely representing to the US exporters that Astrafteros was purchasing the items for fire security systems, among other commercial uses, and that the ultimate end-users and destinations of the electronics were companies in Cyprus or other third countries.”

The DoJ further adds that the components that Petrov and his accomplices allegedly procured included microcontrollers and integrated circuits on the Commerce Control List maintained by the US government “and cannot lawfully be exported or re-exported to Russia without a license.” Invoices sent to Petrov by the US suppliers he tricked expressly noted that such a ban was in place.

To evade these controls, Petrov, CC-1, and CC-2 transshipped $225,000 worth of contraband through entities they operated in third-party countries, from where they were sent to St Petersburg in Russia, the DoJ alleges.

Petrov was extradited from Cyprus at the request of the US on August 26th, and now faces charges of export control violations, smuggling, wire fraud, and money laundering. The latter two offenses alone carry custodial sentences of up to 20 years each.

The DoJ adds that Petrov’s case is being investigated by the FBI and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

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