- The charges describe schemes to steal computer programming or sensitive materials that could benefit militaries of hostile foreign countries.
- The alleged recipients of the technology were Russia, China and Iran, according to charging documents.
WASHINGTON – A Greek national allegedly buying technology for the Russian military and intelligence services. A Chinese citizen allegedly stealing thousands of documents from Apple related to autonomous vehicles. Another Chinese national allegedly schemed to provide Iran with materials used in weapons of mass destruction.
These were among the five criminal cases the Justice Department unveiled Tuesday. The cases were the first from a Disruptive Technology Strike Force announced in February to prevent foreign adversaries from obtaining US technology.
“These charges demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to preventing sensitive technology from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries, including Russia, China, and Iran,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, head of the National Security Division.
The technology at stake in these cases includes the computer code for manufacturing self-driving cars or items used to develop quantum cryptography.
“The theft of technology and trade secrets from US companies is a threat to our economic and national security,” said Assistant Director Suzanne Turner of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.
Here’s what we know about the cases:
- Nikolaos “Nikos” Bogonikolos, 59, of Athens, Greece, was charged with wire fraud conspiracy and smuggling, according to charges unsealed Tuesday. He was allegedly smuggled in highly regulated US electronics and testing equipment used by the military to Russia. He was arrested in Paris on May 9 and remains in custody awaiting extradition.
- “As alleged, while ostensibly operating as a defense contractor for NATO and other allied countries, the defendant and his Aratos Group were double dealing, helping to fuel Russia’s war effort and their development of next generation weapons,” said US Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York.
- A Chinese national, Xiangjiang Qiao, also known as Joe Hansen, 39, was charged with evading sanctions, money laundering and bank fraud, according to federal court records in New York unsealed Tuesday. He participated in a scheme to use a sanctioned Chinese company to provide materials such as isostatic graphite, which is used in the nose tips of intercontinental ballistic missiles, to Iran in exchange for payments through the US financial system, according to the department. Qiao is at large in China.
- A California man, Weibao Wang, 35, formerly of Mountain View, was charged with theft of trade secrets from Apple, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. Wang was hired in March 2016 to develop hardware and software for autonomous vehicles such as cars.
- Wang quit to join the US subsidiary of a Chinese company and in the days leading up to his departure in April 2018, Apple representatives reviewed logs showing he accessed “large amounts of sensitive proprietary and confidential information,” according to the department. The same day authorities searched his home and found large quantities of data. In June 2018, he bought a one-way ticket and flew from San Francisco to Guangzhou, China.
- Two Russian nationals – Oleg Sergeyevich Patsulya and Vasilii Sergeyevich Besedin – were arrested May 11 in Arizona and charged with violating the Export Control Reform Act and conspiracy to commit international money laundering. The men allegedly evaded export laws to send aircraft parts to Russian airlines, which was prohibited under sanctions imposed because of the invasion of Ukraine.
- A California man, Liming Li, 64, of Rancho Cucamonga, was arrested May 6 after arriving at Ontario International Airport on a flight from Taiwan. He was charged with stealing trade secrets about making 3D models from two former employers in order to allegedly build his own competing business in China. FBI agents searched his home and allegedly found numerous digital devices containing millions of files from his former employers.
- “Li stole thousands of files of sensitive technology that did not belong to him and used it to help foreign companies build competing technology – technology that could be used in the manufacture of nuclear submarines and military aircraft,” said Martin Estrada, US attorney for the Central District of California.