Two Singapore Men Plead Guilty In Connection With Plot To Illegally Export Military Antennas
WASHINGTON – Hia Soo Gan Benson, also known as “Benson Hia,” and Lim Kow Seng, also known as “Eric Lim,” pled guilty today in federal court in the District of Columbia to conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act in connection with the unlawful export of 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong.
The plea was announced by Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; John P. Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; James Dinkins, Associate Executive Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations; Stephanie Douglas, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch; and Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary for Industry and Security at the Commerce Department.
Hia, 45, and Seng, 44, both of Singapore, pled guilty this afternoon before the Honorable Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2013 before the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan. The defendants face a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and a 3-year term of supervised release.
According to court documents filed in this case, Hia and Seng conspired to defraud the United States by causing a total of 55 cavity-backed spiral antennas and biconical antennas to be illegally exported from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong without the required State Department license. These military antennas are controlled for export as U.S. munitions and are used in airborne and shipboard environments.
Hia and Seng, among other things, conspired to undervalue the antennas to circumvent U.S. regulations on the filing of shipper’s export declarations to the U.S. government. They also allegedly used false names and front companies to obtain the antennas illegally from the United States.
Corezing International, a company based in Singapore, was also charged in the District of Columbia in connection with the export of these particular military antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong. Corezing and its principals have also been charged in connection with the export of 6,000 radio frequency modules from the United States to Iran via Singapore, some of which were later found in Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq. Hia and Seng pled guilty to the sole charge on which they were extradited from Singapore.
This investigation was jointly conducted by ICE agents in Boston and Los Angeles; FBI agents in Minneapolis; and Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security agents in Chicago and Boston. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Richard S. Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.