US court charges two men of smuggling microchips to Russia via Estonia ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The two men were charged by a district court in California.
The two men were charged by a district court in California. Source: PA Archives/Scanpix

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California has filed charges against two men for smuggling sophisticated electronics that can also be used in military applications from the US to Russia via Estonia, daily Postimees reports.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Valeri Kosmatšov, 66, and Sergey Vetrov, 66, used their respective Estonian-based companies as fronts to get microelectronics from the US by misrepresenting that the end users for the components were located in Estonia, while the electronics were actually smuggled into Russia.

Kosmatšov and Vetrov used two companies as fronts to carry out the scheme, officials said. The former was the owner of an electronics manufacturer called Adimir OÜ and co-owned an electronics distributor named Eastline Technology OÜ with Vetrov. The two obtained programmable computer chips that could be operated in civilian or military applications. It is unclear how the computer chips were used after they were smuggled.

The two men and their companies are charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering.

Kosmatšov and Vetrov are also charged with 12 counts of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 19 counts of smuggling, and 17 counts of international money laundering.

The men could face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each International Emergency Economic Powers Act and money laundering charge, and a maximum ten-year sentence for each smuggling charge.

Kosmatšov was arrested in Tallinn last September and extradited to the United States last week. He appeared for a detention hearing on Wednesday morning before the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. He will remain in federal custody until his next court date on 28 March.

According to US federal officials, Kosmatšov is a naturalised citizen and resident of Estonia. Vetrov livs in Russia and remains at large.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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