A 34-year-old San Jose man has been charged with illegally exporting and smuggling sensitive American aviation technology to a Chinese university, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Jonathan Yet Wing Soong made his initial appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court to face charges related to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and smuggling. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for violating the act and up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for smuggling.
Between April 2016 and September 2020, Soong worked as a program administrator for the Universities Space Research Association, or USRA, a nonprofit corporation contracted by NASA to distribute sensitive aeronautics-related software developed through the Army’s Software Transfer Agreement program, according to a complaint unsealed Thursday. Soong was responsible for overseeing certain software license sales, conducting export compliance screening of customers, generating software licenses and, on occasion, physically exporting software.
According to the complaint, Soong in August 2017 made arrangements to sell an Army flight-control software package to the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics through an intermediary, Beijing Rainbow Technical Development Ltd. The university, however, was on a U.S. Department of Commerce list of entities that are barred from receiving certain technology with commercial and potential military applications. The university was on the list because of its involvement in People’s Republic of China military rocket systems and unmanned air vehicle systems.
“Soong admitted making the export in the name of Beijing Rainbow but for the use of (Beijing University) but claimed that other customers had legitimately used third-party purchasing systems and he thought this case was no different,” the 19-page complaint states. “He ultimately admitted that making Beijing Rainbow the ultimate purchaser was done to avoid detection that the real purchaser was on the entity list.”
On Jan. 2, 2018, the USRA received a wire transfer of $2,182 for the sale of the program.
According to the complaint, Soong also admitted the nonprofit corporation had not received all the credit card payments made for the software he had exported over the years, and he admitted some of the payments had gone to his personal account.
“He claimed that when customers wanted to pay by credit card, USRA did not have a method set up to accept credit card payments,” the complaint states. “He claimed he justified the payments as giving himself a ‘bonus,’ and estimated he stole ‘tens of thousands’ over the years.”
On Sept. 18, 2020, Soong delivered a $161,010 check to USRA, according to the complaint.
Soong’s next court appearance is set for June 2.
© 2022 MediaNews Group, Inc
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.