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Seven in Texas charged with selling high-tech electronics to Russia

Alexander Fishenko and others sold cutting-edge microelectronics that could be used in Russian weapons systems, according to federal prosecutors.

By Juan A. LozanoAssociated Press / October 4, 2012

The Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters seen reflected in a shop window in Moscow on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. US prosecutors allege that naturalized U.S. citizen Alexander Fishenko and six others "engaged in a surreptitious and systematic conspiracy" to obtain highly regulated technology from U.S. makers and sold them to Russian authorities.

(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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Houston

The allegations that a naturalized U.S. citizen obtained military technology for Russia through his Texas export firm have the makings of a 1980s spy film.

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Prosecutors say Alexander Fishenko and others sold cutting-edge microelectronics that could be used in Russian weapons systems, exchanged communications with Russian intelligence and tried to hide documents when they suspected authorities were onto them.

"(If) you are making it up, make it up pretty, correctly, and make sure it looks good," Fishenko allegedly wrote in one message to someone falsifying information.

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Fishenko and six others charged in the alleged scheme are expected to appear Thursday morning in Houston federal court.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday accuses Fishenko of scheming 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 was born in the former Soviet Union in what is now Kazakhstan and owns Houston-based Arc Electronics Inc. He and seven others were in custody following raids there by the FBI.

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 Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement noted that the defendants had not been charged with espionage. Officials said diplomats have met with one of the detained suspects. Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich lamented the fact that the United States failed to inform the Russian authorities of the impending arrests.

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.

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