Washington: A Chinese national has been arrested and charged with illegally exporting to China American-origin parts used to produce weapons-grade uranium in violation of export laws, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.
The 47-year-old accused Qiang Hu aka Johnson Hu, sales manager at MKS Instruments Shanghai Ltd, was arrested at his hotel in North Andover, Massachusetts and charged with conspiracy to violate US export laws.
Hu is accused of illegally exporting pressure transducers which are used in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium and produce weapons-grade uranium. Hu remains in custody and is scheduled for a detention hearing on May 31.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release and a USD 1 million fine.
The complaint alleges that beginning in 2007, Hu and others caused thousands of MKS pressure transducers worth millions of dollars to be exported from the US and delivered to unauthorised end-users using export licenses that were fraudulently obtained from the US Department of Commerce.
According to the Justice Department, Hu and his co-conspirators used two primary means of deception to export the pressure transducers.
First, the conspirators used licenses issued to legitimate MKS business customers to export the pressure transducers to China, and then caused the parts to be delivered to other end-users who were not themselves named on the export licenses or authorised to receive the parts.
Second, the conspirators obtained export licenses in the name of a front company and then used these fraudulently obtained licenses to export the parts to China, where they were delivered to the actual end-users, it said.