Friday, July 19, 2024

Kansas businessman admits to illegally exporting aviation technology to Russia

Kansas Businessman Pleads Guilty to Illegally Exporting Aviation Technology to Russian Companies

Kansas Businessman Pleads Guilty to Illegally Exporting Aviation Technology to Russia

TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas businessman, Douglas Edward Robertson, has pleaded guilty to illegally exporting sensitive aviation technology to Russian companies in violation of U.S. sanctions. Robertson, who resides in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree in Kansas City.

Robertson, 56, pleaded guilty to four of the 26 counts against him, including charges of smuggling, money laundering, violating U.S. export regulations, and submitting false or misleading information to export regulators. His guilty plea comes after the U.S. government ramped up sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

According to prosecutors, Robertson and his co-conspirators, Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Oleg Chistyakov, sought to sell electronics such as threat detection systems and flight, navigation, and communications controls to Russian companies involved in aviation. They attempted to conceal their illegal activities by using multiple companies and bank accounts in various countries.

“Those who seek to profit by illegally selling sophisticated U.S. technology to our adversaries are putting the national security of our country at risk,” said Robert Wells, the executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch.

Buyanovsky, an aviation engineer, previously pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiring to commit crimes against the U.S. His sentencing is scheduled for November 14. Chistyakov, a Latvian citizen, has appealed his extradition to the U.S. after being arrested in Latvia in March.

The indictment against the three men detailed multiple exports of aviation electronics to Russian companies between February 2021 and December 2022, as well as attempted exports in February 2022 and March 2023. The U.S. government seized $450,000 worth of electronics blocked from export the day before Buyanovsky and Robertson were arrested.

“Robertson’s guilty plea is reflective of the strong evidence gathered against him by federal investigators and the solid case presented by federal prosecutors,” said Kate E. Brubacher, the chief federal prosecutor in Kansas.

The sentencing for Robertson is set for October 3, where he could face up to 20 years in prison for his convictions. The case serves as a reminder of the consequences of violating U.S. export regulations and the seriousness of compromising national security for personal gain.

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