Russian Agent Pleads Guilty to Leading Scheme to Illegally Export Controlled Technology to the Russian Military
Earlier today, Alexander Fishenko, a dual citizen of the United States and Russia, pled guilty at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, to all charges pending against him, including acting as an agent of the Russian government within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General, conspiring to export, and illegally exporting, controlled microelectronics to Russia, conspiring to launder money, and obstruction of justice. Fishenko, ten other individuals, and two corporations were originally charged in October 2012. Four members of the conspiracy previously pled guilty, and three are scheduled to commence trial on September 21, 2015.1
The guilty plea was announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“Fishenko lined his pockets at the expense of our national security,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie. “This prosecution highlights the importance of vigorously enforcing United States export control laws.” Mr. Currie thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Commerce for their leading roles in the investigation.
“Alexander Fishenko illegally acted as an agent of the Russian government in the United States and evaded export laws by sending microelectronics and other technology with military applications to Russia,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “By purposefully circumventing U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act, the defendant jeopardized our national security. I would like to thank the many members of law enforcement whose tireless efforts led to this guilty plea.”
As alleged in the indictment and reflected in court filings, between approximately October 2008 and October 2012, Fishenko led a conspiracy to obtain advanced, technologically cutting-edge microelectronics from manufacturers and suppliers located within the United States and to export those high-tech goods to Russia, while carefully evading the government licensing system set up to control such exports. The microelectronics shipped to Russia included analog-to-digital converters, static random access memory chips, microcontrollers, and microprocessors. These commodities have applications, and are frequently used, in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems, and detonation triggers. Russia does not produce many of these sophisticated goods domestically.
In 1998, Fishenko founded Arc Electronics, Inc. (Arc), which was also indicted, in Houston, Texas. Between 2002 and the present, Arc has shipped approximately $50,000,000 worth of microelectronics and other technologies to Russia. Fishenko also served as an executive of co-defendant Apex System, L.L.C. (Apex) a Moscow, Russia-based procurement firm. Apex, working through subsidiaries, served as a certified supplier of military equipment for the Russian government. Fishenko exported many of these high-tech goods, frequently through intermediary procurement firms, to Russian end users, including Russian military and intelligence agencies. To induce manufacturers and suppliers to sell them these high-tech goods, and to evade applicable export controls, Fishenko and his co-conspirators often provided false end user information in connection with the purchase of the goods, concealed the fact that they were exporters, and falsely classified the goods they exported on export records submitted to the Department of Commerce. For example, Arc falsely claimed to be a traffic light manufacturer on its website. In fact, Arc manufactured no goods and operated exclusively as an exporter.
Despite this subterfuge, the investigation revealed that the defendants were supplying Russian government agencies with sophisticated microelectronics. For example, the investigation uncovered a letter sent by a specialized electronics laboratory of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s primary domestic intelligence agency, to an Apex affiliate regarding certain microchips obtained for the FSB by Arc. The letter stated that the microchips were faulty and demanded that the defendants supply replacement parts.
Today’s proceeding took place before United States District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. When sentenced, Fishenko faces up to 20 years in prison for each violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), up to 20 years in prison for money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and up to 10 years in prison for acting as a Russian agent, as well as criminal forfeiture and fines.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Silver, Una Dean, Richard Tucker, and Claire Kedeshian, as well as Trial Attorney David Recker from the Department of Justice’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, are in charge of the prosecution.
1 As to the defendants awaiting trial, the charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.