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Five Russians among several charged by US in schemes to export technology, evade sanctions

FBI agents. (Melanie Rodgers Cox/US Air Force)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. Justice Department has charged nearly a dozen individuals with participating in illegal schemes to export sophisticated technologies to Russia and evade sanctions on Venezuelan oil.

Five Russian nationals and two oil brokers for Venezuela are charged in an indictment unsealed on October 19 alleging they took part in the schemes, the department said in a news release.

Police in Italy have arrested one of the Russians — the son of a governor of a region in Russia’s Siberia — and may extradite him to the United States, where he is wanted on charges of sanctions evasion and money laundering.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said on October 19 that Artyom Uss, the son of the governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai region, Aleksandr Uss, was arrested in Italy two days earlier.

The statement also said another suspect in the case, Yury Orekhov, was arrested in Germany the same day.

A 12-count indictment was unsealed on October 19 in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging the two men along with three other Russian nationals — Svetlana Kuzurgasheva, Timofei Telegin, and Sergei Tulyakov. In addition, two Venezuelan nationals — Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce and Juan Carlos Soto — were charged for brokering illicit oil deals for a Venezuelan energy company.

According to the statement, Uss and Orekhov owned Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau (NDA) in Germany, which bought in the United States military technologies and dual-use technologies, including semiconductors and microchips that are used in military jets, missile systems, modern ammunition, radars, and satellites. Kuzurgasheva served as the company’s executive director.

The items bought in the United States by the company in question were then passed on to Russian companies — Radioavtomatika, Radioexport, and Abtronix — owned by Telegin and Tulyakov.

The U.S. Attorney Office says the items were discovered in Russian military vehicles and equipment captured by Ukrainian forces during Russia’s ongoing full-scale aggression against Ukraine.

According to the indictment papers, Uss and Orekhov also used NDA to illegally smuggle hundreds of millions of tons of oil from Venezuela to companies in China and Russia, including one that might be linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is under U.S. and European Union sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“As alleged, the defendants were criminal enablers for oligarchs, orchestrating a complex scheme to unlawfully obtain U.S. military technology and Venezuelan sanctioned oil through a myriad of transactions involving shell companies and cryptocurrency. Their efforts undermined security, economic stability, and rule of law around the world,” stated U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, stressing the United States “will continue to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute those who fuel Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, evade sanctions and perpetuate the shadowy economy of transnational money laundering.”

Aleksandr Uss called his son’s arrest in Italy “political.”

If found guilty, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison.