Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, a businessman from Tajikistan who lives in the United States, and Nikolay Goltsev and Kristina Puzyreva, two Russians who live in Canada, have all been arrested for sending controlled technologies and chips to Russia without permission. The three were charged with smuggling, plan to break sanctions, and plan to commit wire theft.
They were part of a worldwide plan to get around U.S. sanctions and export controls on important technology that the Russian military used in its attack of Ukraine.
Ivan Arvelo, the special agent in charge of homeland-security investigations for New York, says that the suspects were able to “send over 300 shipments of restricted items, worth about $7 million, to the Russian battlefield.”
The gear was first sent to places like China, India, and Turkey. From there, it was sent to Russia. Some of the electrical parts and integrated circuits that the defendants sent were found in Russian military gear that was taken from Russia in Ukraine. The accused were aware that the electronics could be used by the military.
In January 2022, the plan began. It involved the SH Brothers and SN companies in Brooklyn. After their first court appearances in Brooklyn federal court, the suspects were told to be held. No one made a plea.
It shows that the U.S. government is still very strict about punishing the Russian military and the Federal Security Service for breaking export rules.
The defendants managed to evade U.S. sanctions and export controls by using a combination of tactics, including:
- Shell companies: The accused used fake companies to hide the fact that they were involved in sending semiconductors and other controlled technology abroad without a license. Because these fake companies were listed in many countries, it was hard for the authorities to figure out where the goods came from.
- Transshipment points: The defendants sent the banned things to places like China, India, and Turkey, from which they were sent to Russia. This let them avoid sending goods directly to Russia, where they would have been looked at more closely.
- Falsification of transactional documents: It’s possible that the defendants lied on shipping papers like invoices and shipping manifests to hide what kind of goods were being shipped.
- Omission of key information: It’s possible that the defendants left out important details from internal emails and shipment records, which made it harder for the police to find the criminal activity.
- Complex sales models: The defendants may have used complicated sales models, like multi-tiered delivery networks, to hide who would actually use the technology in the end. This made it hard for businesses to keep track of the people who bought their goods.
- International cooperation: The defendants probably got help from a number of different countries to make their efforts to avoid paying taxes easier. This included help from authorities in Germany, Italy, Estonia, and other countries, which helped them apply U.S. sanctions in more places.
The suspects’ actions show that third-party middle-men and other sneaky ways of getting around U.S. sanctions and export controls are becoming more common. Companies that do business internationally and financial institutions should make sure that their compliance systems are strong and up to date to stop people from trying to avoid paying taxes.