The Department of Justice has charged two Kansas men with conspiring to export banned avionics equipment to Russia. The prosecution is the result of a multi-agency effort to enforce sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
March 3 (UPI) -- Two Kansas businessmen are being held on federal charges related to an elaborate conspiracy to export banned aviation-related technology to Russia, the Justice Department said.
Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky, 59, of Lawrence, and Douglas Robertson, 55, of Olathe, owned and ran KanRus Trading Co., which supplied Western electronics installed in aircraft to Russian companies and provided repair services for equipment used in Russian-manufactured aircraft, according to the indictment.
The United States tightened export controls on aviation-related technology to Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, leading to Thursday's arrests.
"Since 2020, the defendants conspired to evade U.S. export laws by concealing and misstating the true end users, value and end destinations of their exports and by transshipping items through third-party countries," the indictment reads.
"Between November 2020 and February 2021, the defendants received avionics equipment, including a computer processor bearing a sticker identifying Russia's Federal Security Services from a Russian company for repair in the United States. The defendants concealed the true end user and end destination by providing a fraudulent invoice to the shipment company identifying the end destination as Germany."
In February 2022, authorities intercepted an avionics shipment that the Justice Department alleges the defendants were attempting to export to Russia.
The Commerce Department informed the defendants that a license was required to export the equipment to Russia. But in communication in April, Robertson told a Russia-based customer that "things are complicated in the USA" and that it was not the right time for more paperwork and visibility.
Subsequently, in May, June and July 2022, the defendants illegally transshipped avionics through Armenia and Cyprus to Russia without obtaining the required licenses, the Justice Department alleges.
The defendants are charged with conspiracy, exporting controlled goods without a license, falsifying and failing to file electronic export information, and smuggling goods contrary to U.S. law.
If convicted, the pair face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of exporting controlled goods without a license, up to 10 years in prison for each count of smuggling and up to five years in prison for each count of conspiracy and falsifying export information.
The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department's Task Force KleptoCapture.
The interagency law enforcement operation, which was set up in March last year, is tasked with enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures imposed by the United States and its allies and partners in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Thursday's arrests follow the indictment in December of five Russians, a U.S. citizen and a New Hampshire resident on charges of smuggling millions of dollars worth of American-made military and dual-use technology to Russia's military, defense sector and research institutions.