NEW YORK (AP) — An American success story of an immigrant from Kazakhstan who made millions off his Texas export firm took a Cold War-era turn on Wednesday when U.S. authorities accused him of being a secret agent who's been stealing military technology for the Russian military.
Alexander Fishenko was among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment filed in Brooklyn charging them in an alleged scheme to purposely evade strict export controls for cutting-edge microelectronics. It also charges Fishenko with money laundering and operating inside the United States as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.
Fishenko, a naturalized U.S. citizen and owner of Houston-based Arc Electronics Inc., and seven others were in custody in Houston following raids there by the FBI. He was expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday.
The name of Fishenko's attorney was not immediately available. His wife, Viktoria, who was identified as a co-owner of her husband's business but not charged, declined to comment Wednesday.
"I will speak when I know what's going on," she said.
The indictment alleges that since October 2008, the 46-year-old Fishenko and his co-defendants "engaged in a surreptitious and systematic conspiracy" to obtain the highly regulated technology from U.S. makers and export them to Russia.
U.S. authorities say the microelectronics could have a wide range of military uses, including radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers. They also say the charges come amid a modernization campaign by Russian military officials hungry for the restricted, American-made components.
"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 sought to bypass export safeguards "to improve their defense capabilities and to modernize weapons systems at the expense of U.S. taxpayers."
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