Archive for the ‘Countries’ Category

Texas Man Sentenced to 6 years in Prison for Cuba Embargo Violations

2018/10/30

By: Danielle Hatch

Bryan Evan Singer, 46, of Bryan Texas was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison on September 27, 2018 for attempting to export electronic devices to Cuba. On May 2, 2017 Singer was traveling from Stock Island, Florida to Havana, Cuba via his boat “La Mala” when law enforcement stopped him to conduct an outbound inspection of the boat. During the inspection, Singer explained that he was only taking items to Cuba that were on the deck of his boat and that the value of the items was less than $2,500 (possibly suspicious or a red flag). Law enforcement continued to search the boat and found a hidden compartment under a bolted down bed in the cabin where they discovered over $30,000 worth of electronic devices. Of those devices, there were 300 Ubiquiti Nanostation Network devices which allow for highly encrypted connections between computer networks over long distances, making a license required to export them to Cuba.

Singer did not apply for a license for the items…in case you didn’t already guess that.

Justice: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/texas-resident-sentenced-south-florida-more-6-years-prison-violations-cuban-embargo


OFAC Reaches $5 Million Settlement with JPMorgan Chase Bank

2018/10/30

By: Danielle Hatch

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced this month that it had reached a $5,263,171 settlement with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. for 87 violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations.

The transactions were net settlement payments with a very small portion being provided to the interests of airlines that were on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List), blocked pursuant to OFAC sanctions, or located in countries subject to OFAC sanctions. The transactions included airline freight charges which are not exempt from the prohibitions of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

On a separate issue, OFAC issued a Finding of Violation to JPMC for violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations and the Syrian Sanctions Regulations. Between 2011 and 2014 JPMC processed 85 transactions worth $46,127.04 held accounts on behalf of six customers who were on the SDN list.

In both situations JPMC voluntarily disclosed the violations and they were considered to be non-egregious violations by OFAC.

Settlement Agreement: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20181005.aspx


Chinese Intelligence Officer Charged with Espionage and Stealing Trade Secrets

2018/10/30

By: Danielle Hatch

Yanjun Xu (aka Qu Hui and aka Zhang Hui), a Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative, has been arrested and charged with conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and stealing trade secrets from several US aviation and aerospace companies. The MSS is the intelligence and security agency for China and is responsible for counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and political security. It has the power to conduct espionage both in China and abroad.

The indictment explains that from 2013 to 2018, Xu targeted certain aviation companies (in and outside of the US) and proceeded to contact specific experts who worked within those companies. Xu was able to get some of them to travel to China, under the pretense that they would be delivering a university presentation. These employees travel was paid for in addition to stipends by Xu. GE Aviation was one of the companies listed in the indictment that Xu encountered.

Xu was extradited to the US this month, Assistant Director Bill Priestap of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division explained, “This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposed the Chinese government’s direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States.”

Justice: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/chinese-intelligence-officer-charged-economic-espionage-involving-theft-trade-secrets-leading


Epsilon vs. OFAC: Third Party Risks & “Reason to Know”

2018/10/30

By: Danielle Hatch

Before I get to the nitty gritty of this case its important to remember that companies can be held liable for sanctions violations when they export a product to a third-party in another country and know or have reason to know that the third party intends to reexport their product to Iran. Companies must do their due diligence to make sure that that third party who is receiving their products isn’t planning on sending them to Iran. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started.

Note: This case was between the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Epsilon Electronics but Power Acoustik Electronics who is a subsidiary of Epsilon who engaged in the transactions in question.

Epsilon Electronics, also doing business as Power Acoustik Electronics, Sound Stream, Kole Audio, and precision Audio has agreed to pay $1.5 million to OFAC to settle the enforcement case related to alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). OFAC’s Penalty Notice alleged that Epilson violated the ITSR when it issued 39 invoices for sales to Asra Internationals LLC from 2008 to 2012 because Epsilon knew or had reason to know that Asra was distributing its products to Iran.

In 2008 OFAC found out that Power Acoustik exported items to an address in Iran. OFAC issued a subpoena and eventually sent the company a cautionary letter in 2012. During a separate investigation, OFAC uncovered wire transfers from Asra International (company located in Dubai) to Power Acoustik totaling more than $1.1 million between 2010 and 2011. OFAC believed that these wires may have been for products that were destined to Iran and they issued another subpoena to Power Acoustik. The company explained that they had 41 sales of audio and video equipment to Asra between 2008 and 2012 which explained the wire transfers. During a further investigation, OFAC did not directly find any proof that any of the equipment was reexported to Iran by Asra but they did find a website for Asra that specified that the company provided car audio and video products to Iran. The Iran affiliate’s address on Asra’s website was the same address as the 2008 address that OFAC initially sent a subpoena to Power Acoustik for, related to the illegal shipment.

OFAC then issued a Penalty Notice to Epsilon for $4 million based on 34 non-egregious violations (those that occurred before the 2012 cautionary letter) and 5 egregious violations (occurred after the cautionary letter). Epsilon challenged OFAC’s Penalty Notice in the US District Court for the District of Columbia and lost. The company than appealed the order to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which affirmed the 34 non-egregious violations but reversed the 5 egregious violations to be non-egregious changing the penalty from $4 million to $1.5 million. The Court of Appeals found that an exporter may be found liable if it exports goods from the US to a third country, with reason to know that those goods are specifically intended for reexport to Iran, even if they never make it to Iran. The “reason to know” requirement for OFAC can be established “through a variety of circumstantial evidence” including “course of dealing, general knowledge of the industry or customer preferences, working relationships between parties, or other criteria far too numerous to enumerate.”

Up until 2011, Asra distributed to Iran exclusively, making the evidence on their website evidence for OFAC that Power Acoustik could have reasonably inferred that Asra only distributed its products to Iran. The Court of Appeals found that the final five exports didn’t fit the “reason to know” standard because OFAC did not address several emails between Acoustik’s sales team and an Asra manager between 2011-2012 which explained that their products were going to be sold from Asra’s new retail store in Dubai…causing the 5 violations to be changed.

OFAC saw the following as aggravating factors:

  1. The alleged violations constituted or resulted in a systematic pattern of conduct
  2. Epsilon exported goods valued at $2,823,000 or more
  3. Epsilon had no compliance program at the time of the alleged violations

OFAC considered the following to be mitigating factors:

  1. Epsilon has not received a Penalty Notice or a Finding of Violation in five years preceding the transactions that gave rise to the alleged violations
  2. Epsilon is a small business
  3. Epsilon provided some cooperation to OFAC, including entering into an agreement to toll the statute of limitations for one year

The important take away from this case is that, as most people already know, there is a very far-reaching interpretation of what constitutes “reason to know” when dealing with third parties and Iran (and Cuba).

Enforcement Details: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/CivPen/Documents/20180913_epsilon.pdf


The Rise of ITAR-free procurement in Europe

2018/10/30

By: Roland Stein, BLOMSTEIN

In this article, Roland Stein of Blomstein discusses International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a US regulatory framework intended to control the manufacturing, export and proliferation of arms, related goods, services and technologies.

Are European contracting authorities turning the tables on strict US arms control regulations? ITAR, short for “International Traffic in Arms Regulations”, is a US regulatory framework intended to control the manufacturing, export and proliferation of arms, related goods, services and technologies. Its primary aims are twofold: protecting the interests of U.S. national security and serving the objectives of U.S. foreign policy. ITAR is based on the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) (22 U. S. C. 2778-2780) and available in the Code of Federal Regulations under 22 CFR Parts 120-130. An ITAR-listing effectively permits U.S. authorities to control the export and whereabouts of regulated products. Generally, ITAR regulations do not only specify reporting obligations for contractors, but also contain strict restrictions on use, import, export and end-use of regulated products.

As an effective instrument of US state control, many market observers have long considered ITAR provisions to be a vital tool of US power projection abroad. However, an evolving opposing trend is becoming apparent: Fuelled by current shifts in the landscape of European defence procurement, ITAR restrictions are increasingly exploited as an instrument by European contracting authorities. While no state can afford to essentially “blacklist” US products or arms manufacturers altogether, European nations appear to leverage ITAR restrictions to favour European contractors over those with US involvement in specific cases.

At a time when there are indications that European defence spending is set to rise significantly in the near future due to a variety of initiatives for joint European procurement of military equipment such as the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund, as well as established projects such and the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR), contractors with ties to the US will likely encounter legal and strategic challenges when attempting to obtain European defence contracts. The increasing use of ITAR-free restrictions will thus likely contribute to an already challenging market environment for non-European contractors.

Exclusion of products with ITAR restrictions

Lately, government agencies of various EU member states have attempted to exclude products with ITAR restrictions from defence procurements. A notable current case in which such a restriction was employed is the ongoing tender for around 120.000 new standard assault rifles for the German armed forces. The new design is supposed to succeed the current “G36” standard rifle produced by German manufacturer Heckler & Koch. The new rifle must meet a comprehensive catalogue of performance requirements and is intended for use in all branches of the armed forces. The contract for the acquisition of 120.000 firearms and “accessories in different quantities” has an estimated net value of approximately EUR 250 million. Its conclusion is scheduled for 2019, with a planned delivery of the rifles starting 2020. While the Europe-wide call for competition issued on 21 April 2017 did not specify any requirements in this respect, the subsequent invitation to tender by the German Ministry of Defence stipulated that any proposal for a successor rifle may not rely on components subject to ITAR regulations. In the case of the German rifle procurement, the ITAR-free exclusion criterion even applied to supplies and weapons produced entirely in Germany. A related tender regarding the manufacture and supply of a main battle sight and reflex visor for the new assault rifle includes a similar clause: according to the contract notice, both items may not be subject to the ITAR regulations.

According to press reports, SIG Sauer, a German-American bidding consortium, initially took part in the preceding competition with its existing MCX rifle. Besides SIG Sauer and the incumbent Heckler & Koch, the German Rheinmetall group participated in the competition in a joint venture with Austrian manufacturer Steyr Mannlicher. Whereas Heckler & Koch presented a newly developed rifle design, the HK433, Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher proposed an existing design, the RS556 assault rifle. Surprising many observers, both SIG Sauer and Rheinmetall/Steyr Mannlicher eventually decided not to submit an offer before the close of the bidding period on 8 February. While the reasons for the eventual non-participation of Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher remain unclear, SIG Sauer was very vocal about its decision to pull out of the procurement process, publically naming discriminatory design requirements as a motivation for its pull out of the competition. The company cited “blanket discrimination against U.S. products and bidders” and a disadvantageous wording of the invitation to tender as the main reasons for revoking its initial offer.

So far, the German Ministry of Defence has not specifically addressed the allegations, as it did not want to comment on the issue due to the ongoing tendering phase. SIG Sauer’s offer included a production based in Germany and a design lacking U.S. patent reservations. However, this was apparently insufficient to fully comply with tender requirements. The manufacturer’s proposal was still subject to ITAR restrictions, as SIG Sauer’s proposed design employed US technology, in particular the design of the magazine and several interfaces for accessories. According to SIG Sauer, an ITAR-free requirement was neither imposed in the earlier invitation to tender for an assault rifle for the German Army’s special forces, nor stipulated in the preceding call for competition. Therefore, contractors were not aware of any ITAR restrictions before participating in the preliminary competition.

SIG Sauer alleged that had it stayed in the competition, it would not have had a realistic chance of winning the tender, as the technical requirements were clearly and unambiguously tailored to the incumbent competitor Heckler & Koch. Furthermore, the company accuses the German Ministry of Defence of discriminating against U.S. bidders through excessive procurement requirements. The company criticises that the exclusion of ITAR controlled products constitutes a preliminary decision in favour of its EU-based competitors, as the criterion de facto renders most products by manufacturers with minor links to the U.S. ineligible.

Analysis

How does this case tie in with the current landscape of European defence procurement? Germany has previously exported up-to-date and used equipment to political and military allies if deemed appropriate and necessary, including assault rifles. For instance, the country has equipped Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq with approximately 16.000 assault rifles from 2014 onwards. ITAR restrictions might severely limit Germany’s ability to distribute weapons and equipment in such a way. Moreover, even the use of ITAR rifles by Germany’s own forces in countries such as Afghanistan might be complicated significantly by ITAR restrictions. Thus, political concerns may partly explain the exclusion of ITAR regulated offers in this case.

Still, this particular use of an ITAR-free clause is not an isolated case, but representative of a growing practice that is becoming more and more frequent in European procurement projects. ITAR-related exclusionary requirements signal a new trend, as the Ministry of Defence had in the past regularly accepted U.S. reservations and ITAR restrictions for various defence projects. As the delays resulting from U.S. approval and extensive disclosure requirements have been cause for criticism in the past, both timing and context of the depicted case suggest an inclination to ask for “ITAR-free” products in future procurements.

This practice is not just a German development, but indicative of a Europe-wide trend. ITAR-free clauses are becoming increasingly common as exclusion criteria in international invitations to tender. A corresponding widespread, albeit not concerted, effort to avoid the purchase of products subject to ITAR regulation is observable throughout the entire landscape of European defence procurement. For instance, large parts of the French arms industry tend to avoid using or sourcing ITAR-regulated items, provided an adequate substitute is available. Many manufacturers attempt to circumvent ITAR restrictions, as well. Products are regularly marketed as being “ITAR-free”. Notable French contractors and manufacturers such as Dassault Aviation avoid using key U.S. technologies altogether in order to strategically advertise and commercialise its fighter aircrafts as being exempt from ITAR restrictions.

The increased use of ITAR-free clauses in EU procurements is certainly not exclusively attributable to protectionist intentions. ITAR restrictions do in fact frequently tend to complicate and delay international procurements. In addition, the U.S. has shown a tendency to apply them strictly and strategically in the past. For instance, in 2014 a French contract for the sale of “Falcon Eye” reconnaissance satellites to the United Arab Emirates worth EUR 700 million was stalled for more than a year, as the satellites in question included ITAR-regulated electronic components. Even though these components were of no particular sensitivity, their inclusion still enabled the U.S. government to cause significant delays due to approval requirements.

Likewise, defence contractors may have a legitimate interest to protect confidential trade secrets, which they might be obliged to disclose under ITAR. ITAR-free clauses may thus in many cases reflect justified political and trade related concerns. The recent paradigm shift toward ITAR-free clauses may in part be explained by these and similar past negative experiences with ITAR-regulated items. However, the German depicted above case clearly demonstrates how ITAR-free clauses might be employed in the future to de facto exclude U.S. competitors and products from European procurements.

Outlook

While it is too soon to presume a concerted EU-wide effort to obstruct or even exclude U.S. defence contractors from EU government procurement procedures, two emerging trends are evident: On the one hand, systematic cooperation on procurement projects at the EU-level is increasing, accompanied by de jure benefits for EU-based companies. On the other hand, there has been a notable rise in national preferences of EU bidders through selective procurement requirements. These developments pose significant challenges for European and US contractors alike. It remains to be seen if this trend on the European defence sector continues and similar strategies are adopted towards other markets, in particular targeting dual use items. Legal challenges to such practices under European Procurement Law and International Trade Law are likely.

It should be added that the aforementioned developments do not appear to be temporary. The landscape of European defence procurement is adjusting rapidly, fuelled by significant recent geopolitical developments. On one hand, with the US shifting its strategic focus to other regions of the world and the UK set to leave the EU, continental European defence spending will presumably see a significant rise. Simultaneously, new mechanisms of EU defence procurement promise significant market changes. At a time when a variety of initiatives at the EU-level aim at promoting EU defence procurement, not least the recent introduction of a Permanent, Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in defence matters, the future effects of ITAR-free procurement on international trade and competition will need to be monitored closely.

Article: http://whoswholegal.com/news/analysis/article/34786/rise-itar-free-procurement-europe/


Chinese National Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison for Illegal Exports

2018/10/29

By: Danielle Hatch

Si Chen, 33, known as “Cathy Chen” plead guilty to illegally exporting sensitive space communications technology to China was sentenced this month to 46 months in prison. Chen was arrested in May 2017 after an investigation by the Office of Export Enforcement uncovered her elaborate scheme involving illegal exports, money laundering, and forged passports.

Court documents show that from March 2013 to the end of 2015, Chen purchased and smuggled “jammers” which are used in military communications as well as devices used in space communication applications. The devices were worth more than $100,000 and required a license from the Department of Commerce for regional stability and national security reasons. Chen forged her passport, she used a Chinese passport with her photo on it and the name, “Chunping Ji” which she used to rent an office in Pomona, California where she would receive the export-controlled items. After she had the items, she would then ship them to Hong Kong using the false name on the passport, false product descriptions, and she undervalued the items on the shipping documents to avoid red flags or suspicions. Once the items reached Hong Kong they were then transshipped to China. Chen received the money for the items via an account at a bank in China in one of her family member’s names once the items reached China.

United States Attorney Nick Hana explained during the sentencing, “This defendant knowingly participated in a plot to secretly send items with military applications to China. The smuggled items would be used in a number of damaging ways, including in equipment that could jam our satellite communications. We will aggressively target all persons who provide foreign agents with technology in violation of US law.”

Justice: https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/pomona-woman-sentenced-federal-prison-scheme-smuggle-restricted-space-communications


State Department Adds to CAATSA List

2018/10/29

Countering American’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA) allows sanctions to be imposed on persons that knowingly, engage in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.

The Chinese entity, Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission (EDD) formerly known as the General Armaments Department (GAD) has been added after engaging in a significant transaction with a person that is connected to the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.

The Secretary of State is also updating the previously issued guidance to specify additional persons:

Section 231(d) List Regarding the Defense Sector of the Government of the Russian Federation

  • Komsomolsk-na-Amur Aviation Production Organization (KNAAPO)
  • Oboronlogistika, OOO
  • PMC Wagner

Section 231(d) List Regarding the Russian Intelligence Sector of the Government of the Russian Federation

  • Antonov, Boris Alekseyevich
  • Aslanov, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly
  • Badin, Dmitriy Sergeyevich
  • Bogacheva, Anna Vladislavovna
  • Bovda, Maria Anatolyevna
  • Bovda, Robert Sergeyevich
  • Burchik, Mikhail Leonidovich
  • Bystrov, Mikhail Ivanovich
  • Concord Catering
  • Concord Management and Consulting LLC
  • Gizunov, Sergey Aleksandrovich
  • Internet Research Agency LLC
  • Kaverzina, Irina Viktorovna
  • Korobov, Igor Valentinovich
  • Kovalev, Anatoliy Sergeyevich
  • Kozachek, Nikolay Yuryevich
  • Krylova, Aleksandra Yuryevna
  • Lukashev, Aleksey Viktorovich
  • Malyshev, Artem Andreyevich
  • Morgachev, Sergey Aleksandrovich
  • Netyksho, Viktor Borisovich
  • Osadchuk, Aleksandr Vladimirovich
  • Podkopaev, Vadim Vladimirovich
  • Polozov, Sergey Pavlovich
  • Potemkin, Aleksey Aleksandrovich
  • Prigozhin, Yevgeniy Viktorovich
  • Vasilchenko, Gleb Igorevich
  • Venkov, Vladimir
  • Yermakov, Ivan Sergeyevich
  • Yershov, Pavel Vyacheslavovich

Federal Register Notice: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-10-05/pdf/2018-21684.pdf


India is Movin’ On Up…from A:6 to A:1

2018/09/27

By: Danielle Hatch

Effective August 3, 2018, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has removed India from Country Group A:6 and placed it in Country Group A:1 (Supplement No. 1 to Part 740) and Country Group A:5. In a nutshell, this change is going to expand the number of US goods that can be exported/reexported to India using NLR and License Exceptions STA, GOV, and APR…which is good news. Fun Fact: India is the 37th country to join Country Group A:5 (make sure to share that one).

The biggest change exporters/reexporters will actually “see” is the ability to use paragraph (c)(1) of License Exception STA for exports/reexports and transfers within India. Exporters with also find that the move to Country Group A:5 now allows License Exception paragraph (c) to be used on exports and transfers of some 600-series goods (not all; dependent on end use/user and other exceptions specified elsewhere).

Now that India is in Country Group A:1, License Exception GOV can be used for exports/reexports of goods to the Indian government agencies. Related to this, License Exception GOV can be used to authorize some 600-series items now that India is in Country Group A:5.

It should be noted that License Exception APR (paragraphs (a), (b) and (j)) are now open for India too. The new ruling also removed the “X” for India in the NS column 2 of the Commerce Country Chart (Supplement No. 1 to Part 738) which allows a large number of items that previously required a license or license exception to be exported/reexported to India under No License Required (NLR).

Breakdown of EAR Changes:

  • Part 738: BIS amends Supplement No. 1 to Part 738, Commerce Country Chart, by removing the license requirements for National Security Column 2 (NS2) reasons. Accordingly, this rule removes the ‘‘X’’ in NS Column 2 for India.
  • Part 740: BIS amends Supplement No. 1 to Part 740 to add, in alphabetical order, India to Country Groups A:1 and A:5.
  • Conforming 738 Amendments
    • Removal of the first sentence of footnote 7 to the Commerce Country Chart in Supplement No. 1 to Part 738, related to India. This amendment removes the requirement that exporters file in the Automated Export System when items controlled for Crime Control Columns 1 and 3 reasons, and Regional Stability Column 2 reasons were destined to India. As a conforming change,
    • Removal of the word ‘‘Also’’ from the second sentence of footnote 7 and capitalizes the ‘‘n’’ in ‘‘note’’ since it begins the sentence.
    • Paragraph (b)(3) of§ 738.4 removes the name ‘‘India’’ and replace it with the name ‘‘Chad.’’ The sample analysis used India as an example of a country with NS Column 2 controls. That reason for control no longer applies to India but currently applies to Chad.
  • Conforming 740 Amendments
    • Removal of India from Country Group A:6 to avoid creating conflicting eligibility criteria for STA provisions.
  • Part 743: India now is subject to reporting requirements for items controlled under Wassenaar, as set forth in Part 743, Special Reporting and Notification. Specifically, India is added, in alphabetical order, to Supplement No. 1 to Part 743, Wassenaar Arrangement Participating States.
  • Part 758: Removal of the requirement that exporters file in AES when items controlled for CC Columns 1 and 3 reasons and RS Column 2 reasons are destined to India. This reporting requirement had been instituted when the license requirement for such items was removed (see U.S.-India Bilateral Understanding: Additional Revisions to the U.S. Export and Reexport Controls Under the Export Administration Regulations; January 23, 2015; 80 FR 3463).
  • Part 772: India added, in alphabetical order, to the list of countries under the term Australia Group in § 772.1, Definitions of terms as used in the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). This updates the definition consistent with formal recognition of India’s membership in the AG in a BIS final rule, entitled ‘‘Implementation of the February 2017 Australia Group (AG) Intersessional Decisions and June 2017 Plenary Understandings; Addition of India to the AG’’ (83 FR 13849, April 2, 2018).

Final Rule: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-08-03/pdf/2018-16691.pdf


France: Weaning Off of US Weapons Systems Parts

2018/09/27

By: Danielle Hatch

French Defence minister Florence Parly recently explained that it will start to cut its dependence on US components in many of its weapons systems. Everyone knows that US export controls often limit European weapons sales even if they only contain a tiny US component. Just this year, the US blocked the sale of French-made SCALP cruise missiles to Egypt because they contained a US part that was subject to the US export regulations. Regarding the blocked sale, Parly said: “We are at the mercy of the Americans.” Without providing specific examples, Parly said France needed to “gradually wean ourselves off our reliance on a certain number of American parts.”

France and Germany are currently working on the Future Combat Air System (SCAF) project, a next generation combat jet and they are trying to minimize the dependence on US parts within the project. France’s Dassault Aviation and Airbus have signed a deal to work together on the jet which will have the ability to be at the center of a broader weapons system that can control a squadron of drones. Currently, France’s air force uses Reaper drones which are built by General Atomics, a US firm. France had to obtain US congressional approval to arm the drones since they are used in its counter-terrorism operations against Islamist militants. “Is that satisfactory? No. But we don’t have any choice,” Parly explained.

Quotes from French Defence minister Florence Parly during a joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland on August 23, 2018.

More details: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-defence/france-says-it-must-use-fewer-us-parts-in-its-weapons-systems-idUSKCN1LM2CK


Owner of Defense Firm Charged with Defrauding DOD out of 7 Million in Contracts

2018/09/27

By: Danielle Hatch

Ferdi Murat Gul (Fred Gul), 42, of Turkey has been indicted by a grand jury on the following counts:

  • One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud
  • Six counts of wire fraud
  • One count of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act (AECA)
  • Once substantive count of violating the Arms Export Control Act

Gul is the principal owner, chief executive office, and general manager of Bright Machinery Manufacturing Group Inc. (BMM), a defense contracting company in New Jersey and FMG Machinery Group (FMG), a purported manufacturing company in New York. He also has an ownership interest in HFMG Insaat (HFMG), a manufacturing company located in Turkey.

Between October 2010 and June 2015 Gul would submit bids for DoD contracts for BMM, he would submit quotes based on BMM providing military goods manufactured in the US. BMM actually relied on Gul’s Turkish company, HFMG for the goods. Over the course of 5 years BMM was awarded approximately $7 million in DoD contracts. BMM fraudulently won 346 contracts to manufacture torpedoes for the US Navy, bomb ejector racks, and armament utilized in US Air Force aircraft, and firearms and mine clearance systems used by US military abroad. Later testing by the DoD exposed the some parts had several design flaws and were unusable.

Gul and his conspirators hid the fraudulent activity from the government by submitting forged certifications and fabricated information by email to DoD. They also falsely claimed that they performed quality control on the procedures and parts sold to DoD. To have HFMG create the parts for BMM, Gul exported drawings and technical data to Turkey. Some of this information was subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and required a license form the State Department.

The wire fraud counts carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The Arms Export Control Act violations carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Ferdi Murat Gul is currently at large and believed to be in Turkey. Also remember…The charges and allegations of this indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty (cue sound from Law & Order).

Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/owner-defense-firm-charged-conspiracy-defraud-department-defense-7-million-violate-arms