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Large numbers of foreign nationals accused of alleged plans to send military technology to Russia

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CNN

The Ministry of Justice announced Wednesday that it has filed charges against about a dozen individuals and two companies in connection with illegal plans to send military technology to Russia.

In a statement, the ministry said some of the defendants had attempted to send “nuclear proliferation technology” to Russia, but were stopped before they arrived.

“These accusations include shipping precision military technologies from US manufacturers – including the types found on Russian weapons platforms seized in Ukraine – and attempting to re-export a machine system with potential application in nuclear proliferation, including US exports and reveals two separate global plans that violate sanctions laws. and defense programs to Russia,” he said.

“As I’ve said before, our investigators and prosecutors will be relentless in their efforts to identify, find and bring to justice those whose illegal acts undermine the rule of law and enable the Russian regime to continue its invasion of Ukraine for no reason,” Garland said. .

The indictments are the latest action taken by law enforcement with the help of the ministry’s Task Force KleptoCapture, which was part of an effort to impose sanctions against Russian government officials and oligarchs, announced earlier this year.

The charges were included in two separate indictments that outlined two different plans to transport weapons technology and other goods to Russia.

In an indictment filed in New York, five Russian nationals and two oil brokers for Venezuela are accused of running a network of front companies to illegally ship US military technology to Russia and millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil to Russian and Chinese buyers, while avoiding US sanctions. .

In at least one message highlighted by prosecutors, one of the Russian nationals admitted to acting on behalf of a Russian oligarch under US sanctions, allegedly writing the oligarch “under sanctions”. so we [are] moving from this company. As a facade.”

To complete the proceedings, prosecutors said the defendants forged shipping documents and spent tens of millions of dollars through bank accounts they created under fake company names. One of the defendants allegedly bragged about how easy it was to fool banks and said, “don’t worry… this is the crappiest bank in the Emirates.”

The Ministry of Justice said Wednesday that two Russian nationals have been detained abroad and will be subject to extradition proceedings. Seven defendants face multiple conspiracy charges. Five of the defendants charged with bank fraud conspiracy linked to an oil smuggling scheme could face more than 30 years in prison.

They have not yet made a formal plea, and the defendants’ lawyers are not yet listed on the public list.

In a second indictment, US officials, in collaboration with Latvian authorities, seized equipment originally manufactured in Connecticut and linked to Russia, which has applications in “nuclear proliferation and defense programs,” according to the Justice Department.

The Ministry of Justice said that four people, including three Latvians and a Ukrainian residing in Estonia, are facing various charges for alleged conspiracy to smuggle a high-precision grinding machine to people in Russia.

“The indictment alleges that these defendants attempted to smuggle into Russia a high-precision export-controlled product that could be used in nuclear proliferation and Russian defense programs,” US Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery of the District of Connecticut said in a statement. “The danger posed by such behavior is enormous.”

According to the Justice Department, three Latvians were arrested in Latvia on Tuesday, while the Ukrainian were detained in June, all at the request of the US government, which sought their extradition. The charges have not been sealed in the case, and it is not yet clear whether the defendants have made an official plea.

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