A group of 11 Russians were charged in New York on Wednesday with involvement in a multimillion-dollar scheme to "steal American technology" for Russian military and intelligence agencies, CBS News reported.
Alexander Fishenko, a Kazakhstan-born owner of a Texas export firm, was charged with being a secret Russian agent among 11 defendants, including seven of his employees, named in an indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn.
The FBI arrested the 46-year-old Fishenko and eight others Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Three defendants were still being sought.
The indictment alleges that since October 2008, Fishenko and his co-defendants "engaged in a surreptitious and systematic conspiracy" to obtain cutting-edge microelectronics from U.S. makers and export them to Russian while purposely evading licensing requirements.
The microelectronics are subject to strict government controls. Authorities say they could have a wide range of military uses, including radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers.
US authorities say the charges come amid a modernization campaign by the Russian military. Officials there are seeking components that are unavailable in Russia and often can only be bought in the United States.
"The defendants tried to take advantage of America's free markets to steal American technologies for the Russian government," Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, said in a statement.
Stephen L. Morris, head of the FBI office in Houston, called the charges an example of how some countries have violated export laws "to improve their defense capabilities and to modernize weapons systems at the expense of US taxpayers."
Fishenko, a naturalized US citizen and owner of Houston-based Arc Electronics Inc., was charged with operating inside the US as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.