Disruptive Technology Strike Force Files Cases Against Russia and China

by Wall Street Rebel - Michael London | 05/18/2023 9:45 AM
Disruptive Technology Strike Force Files Cases Against Russia and China

The US Department of Justice has recently disclosed charges against four individuals for their involvement in five instances of technology theft. The primary objective of these thefts was to promote the interests of adversarial nations such as China, Russia, and Iran.


The Disruptive Technology Strike Force represents a joint endeavor between the Departments of Justice and Commerce. The main aim of this initiative is to prevent any unlawful acquisition of sensitive U.S. technology by hostile nation-states. These efforts are aimed at advancing their autocratic regimes and enabling violations of human rights.

As a direct consequence of the actions of the Strike Force, charges have been unsealed and brought against multiple individuals in a total of five different instances. These people are suspected of committing a variety of offenses, including breaches of export laws, smuggling, and theft of trade secrets.

Two of these cases include the disruption of alleged procurement networks designed to assist the Russian military and intelligence agencies in illegally acquiring sensitive technologies. This activity is in violation of the laws that are in place in the United States. On May 9, a Greek national was arrested in the Eastern District of New York on federal charges of acquiring more than ten distinct types of sensitive technologies on behalf of the Russian government and acting as a procurement agent for two Russian Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) operating on behalf of Russia's intelligence services. The allegations against the Greek national allege that he acquired these technologies on behalf of the Russian government. Two people with Russian citizenship have been taken into custody in the District of Arizona on suspicion that they were involved in a fraudulent procurement scam. The operation entailed distributing export-controlled equipment and components to several Russian commercial aviation businesses, including braking technology. It was forbidden for these businesses to take part in some kinds of economic dealings.

Two software engineers have been charged with the theft of software and hardware source code from American technology companies. The stolen intellectual property was intended to be sold to Chinese competitors. A senior software engineer was arrested on May 5 in the Central District of California for allegedly stealing trade secrets. The stolen source code was utilized in metrology software, which is an integral component of "smart" automotive manufacturing machinery. According to the allegations, the defendant proceeded to promote the purloined technology to various Chinese enterprises. A former Apple engineer and citizen of the People's Republic of China (PRC) has been accused of stealing thousands of documents related to Apple's autonomous vehicle technology. The alleged theft includes source code for both software and hardware. The occurrence transpired within the Northern District of California. The accused individual has fled to China and is believed to have secured employment with a competitor company specializing in self-driving vehicles in the People's Republic of China.

The fifth and final case relates to a Chinese procurement network that was set up with the intention of providing Iran with materials that are used in the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles. This network was formed to supply Iran with the materials above. An individual who is a citizen of the People's Republic of China and who was charged in the Southern District of New York for allegedly participating in a conspiracy that entailed using his employer to do business with a financial institution in the United States is a national of the People's Republic of China. This strategy was devised to profit from a purported Iranian organization and ease the flow of isostatic graphite. This component is employed in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction in Iran.

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On Tuesday, the administration of President Joe Biden made public the arrests of five individuals and the filing of criminal charges against them in connection with five separate incidents involving the violation of sanctions and the theft of trade secrets by Russia, China, and Iran.

Last week, two Russian nationals were detained on suspicion of shipping airplane components to Russia in contravention of the sanctions imposed in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In a separate instance, a former Apple engineer is being investigated for the theft of the firm's exclusive autonomous car technology to sell it to a rival Chinese business.

The disclosures were the product of a newly constituted "technology strike force," which aims to prevent hostile countries from stealing vital American technology or data.

According to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the purpose of the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, which is an interagency partnership between the Departments of Justice and Commerce, will be to target adversarial nations such as China that seek to use American technological advancements to undermine national security and disrupt the rule of law.

"We will use intelligence and data analytics to target illicit actors, enhance public and private partnerships to harden supply chains, and identify early warning of threats to our critical assets," added Monaco. "We will also identify early warning of threats to our critical assets."

U.S. authorities are paying closer attention to how foreign enemies attempt to utilize investments to get access to American technology and data so that they may better protect the country from the hazards posed by these threats. According to Monaco, the administration of Vice President Joe Biden is looking at methods that federal authorities may oversee the flow of American money into foreign technology sectors to ensure that these funds are not being used to further the national security objectives of another country.

China and Russia are becoming "more sophisticated, brazen, and dangerous" in their activities directed against the security of the United States. According to her, the most pressing issues are hacking personal information in China and targeting public institutions in the United States by Russian criminals, such as hospitals.

"The Chinese government is not just hacking to gather our data," Monaco added. "The Chinese government is doing much more than that." "If a company is operating in China and is collecting your data, it is a good bet that the Chinese government is accessing it," you may paraphrase this to mean, "If the company is collecting your data, the Chinese government is accessing it."

The pointed comments made by one of the United States' top law enforcement officers come at a time when tensions are escalating with China. The United States military recently shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon after it traveled over a large portion of the nation. This event caused the Secretary of State to postpone a meeting that was scheduled to take place in Beijing. A number of departments and agencies within the United States government have also prohibited using the social media site TikTok on official devices.

According to Monaco, the objective of the administration is to prevent nations like China from exploiting the citizens of the United States via the use of American investment, technology, and data. According to what she had to say, the recently announced strike team of the Justice Department — which is only one of its numerous programs — will now strive to discover early weaknesses.

At a meeting of mayors that took place one month ago, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the Justice Department is trying to disrupt another danger to the people of the United States that originates in China. This threat is fentanyl.

Investigators are, according to Garland, "disrupting the flow of precursor chemicals coming from the People's Republic of China to Mexico," where the ingredients are then utilized to build the lethal poison, after which it is transferred into the United States.

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An engineer based in California has been accused of attempting to steal source code for advanced machinery capable of producing parts for military submarines and aircraft. The motive behind this act was to sell the stolen code to various Chinese companies. The purported occurrence took place on Tuesday.

U.S. officials have announced two additional cases, one involving charges against agents based in China who are accused of attempting to send materials utilized in weapons of mass destruction to Iran, and the other involving charges related to the alleged provision of advanced technology to Russia that the Russian military could potentially repurpose.

Matthew G. Olsen, the Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's National Security Division, has stated that the cases mentioned above indicate the United States government's ability to accelerate investigations and collaborate with available resources to protect against potential threats.

Matthew Axelrod, the Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Bureau of Industry and Security within the Commerce Department, has stated that foreign nation-states are making significant efforts to obtain our most sensitive technologies. We are exerting additional effort to prevent their actions.

Last week, both Russian nationals, Oleg Patsulya, and Vasilii Besedin, were apprehended on suspicion of attempting to acquire millions of dollars worth of prohibited parts for Russian airlines. They have been formally charged with two counts: conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act and conspiracy to commit international money laundering. If convicted, the concerned individual(s) would be liable to a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment for each charge.

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A temporary denial order was issued against the men on Tuesday by the Department of Commerce. This order restricts them from engaging in any transactions involving U.S. goods for the next 180 days.

The injunction also applies to a freight forwarder in the Maldives that the men had used to route shipments of forbidden materials into Russia and a Russian airline called Smartavia that wanted to acquire the merchandise in question.

An official from the United States said that on Thursday, federal authorities could confiscate luxury items acquired with revenues from their plan.


                      Justice Department Announces Five Cases as Part of Disruptive Technology Strike Force




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