Two Extradited from Singapore in Connection with Plot to Illegally Export Military Antennas
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 21, 2012|
WASHINGTON—Hia Soo Gan Benson, aka “Benson Hia,” and Lim Kow Seng, aka “Eric Lim,” have been extradited from Singapore to stand trial in the District of Columbia in connection with an alleged fraud conspiracy involving the unlawful export of 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong, announced by Ronald C. Machen, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; John Morton, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Stephanie Douglas, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch; and Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary for Industry and Security at the Commerce Department.
Hia and Seng, both citizens of Singapore, were arrested by Singaporean authorities on October 24, 2011, in connection with a U.S. request for extradition. They are to make their initial appearance this afternoon in federal court in the District of Columbia after their extradition from Singapore. Each defendant faces one charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States by violating the Arms Export Control Act. If convicted, each defendant faces a potential sentence of five years in prison.
An indictment returned in the District of Columbia on September 15, 2010 alleges that Hia and Seng conspired to defraud the United States by causing a total of 55 cavity-backed spiral antennas and biconical antennas to be illegally exported from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong without the required State Department license. These military antennas are controlled for export as U.S. munitions and are used in airborne and shipboard environments.
Hia and Seng are alleged to have, among other things, conspired to undervalue the antennas to circumvent U.S. regulations on the filing of shipper’s export declarations to the U.S. government. They also allegedly used false names and front companies to obtain the antennas illegally from the United States.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Richard S. Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The assistance of the Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division, Donald D. Ashley, the Department of Justice Attaché with responsibility for Singapore, and his predecessor, Robert E. Courtney, III, was instrumental to securing extradition of the defendants from Singapore.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division expressed appreciation for the work and assistance in this matter provided by the staff of the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls within the Department of State, which licenses and regulates the export and international sales of United States Munitions List items.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.