4 Chinese nationals charged for allegedly smuggling electronic components from US to Iran

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Four Chinese nationals have been charged after unlawfully exporting and smuggling “U.S. export controlled items through China and Hong Kong ultimately for the benefit of entities affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL),” according to a U.S. Attorneys Office press release.

Baoxia Liu, also known as Emily Liu, 42; Yiu Wa Yung, also known as Stephen Yung, 63; Yongxin Li, also known as Emma Lee, 36; and Yanlai Zhong, also known as Sydney Chung, 40, have been charged with various federal crimes related to an alleged yearslong conspiracy to unlawfully export and smuggle U.S.-origin electronic components from the United States to Iran.

The indictment, announced Wednesday, says the alleged crimes took place between May 2007 until July 2020. The suspects are accused of using an array of “front companies” in the People’s Republic of China to “funnel dual-use U.S.-origin items, including electronics and components that could be utilized in the production of UAVs, ballistic missile systems, and other military end uses, to sanctioned Iranian entities with ties to the IRGC and MODAFL such as Shiraz Electronics Industries (SEI), Rayan Roshd Afzar, and their affiliates.,” the press release said.

The defendants allegedly concealed the fact that the goods were destined for the Middle East and misrepresented the end destination and users to U.S. companies. 

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Tehran locator map

An FBI special agent in charge said the stolen technology was being sent from the U.S. to Iran and Iranian military affiliates. (AP Photo)

“Our indictment alleges a years-long, complex conspiracy to violate U.S. laws by procuring U.S. technology with military uses for entities in Iran who would do us harm – a serious offense that endangers our national security,” U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves said in the release.

The authorities quoted in the release say the conspiracy was a threat to the United States’ economic and national security.  

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Chinese Flag

The four defendants listed in Wednesday’s indictment are Chinese nationals, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon – RTX240F5)

The four Chinese nationals are charged with “conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), violating IEEPA, smuggling goods from the United States, and one count of submitting false or misleading export information.” 

Should they be convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for violating the IEEPA; up to 10 years in prison for smuggling goods from the United States; and up to five years in prison for each count of conspiracy and submitting false or misleading export information.

Arrest warrants have been issues for Emily Liu, Yiu Wa Yung, Yongxin Li and Yanlai Zhong, who all remain fugitives, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. (iStock)

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Arrest warrants have been issued for Liu, Yung, Li and Zhong, who authorities say are all in hiding. 

Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report. 

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