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Press Release

Chinese National Arrested in United States for Alleged Scheme to Illegally Export Semiconductor Manufacturing Machine

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

An indictment was unsealed today charging two Chinese nationals, Han Li, also known as Anson Li, 44, and Lin Chen, 64, with crimes related to a conspiracy to illegally export U.S. technology, including a machine manufactured by a California-based company that is used to process silicon wafer microchips, to prohibited end users in China, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Chen was arrested in Chicago yesterday.

“As alleged, the defendants sought to evade export controls to obtain U.S. semiconductor manufacturing technology for a prohibited Chinese company,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Justice Department is committed to enforcing export controls and holding accountable those who seek to illicitly procure U.S.-developed technologies that put our national security at risk.”

“The export restrictions at issue in this case were put in place to prevent the illicit procurement of commodities and technologies for unauthorized military end use in the People’s Republic of China,” said U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey for the Northern District of California. “This office will continue to vigorously enforce the nation’s export laws, including those pertaining to advanced technologies, to protect our national security.”

“This indictment puts an end to Ms. Chen’s alleged involvement in a scheme to illegally export U.S. technology to China,” said Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “The U.S. does not tolerate illegally exporting our advanced technology, and any attempt to circumvent U.S. laws and regulations will have consequences. The FBI and its partners will continue to seek justice in this matter.”

Federal regulations restrict the export of certain items to companies, research institutions, and other entities identified on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List. In August 2014, the Commerce Department added Changdu GaStone Technology Company (CGTC), a company based in China, to the Entity List. 

As alleged in the indictment, between at least May 2015 and August 2018, Li and Chen conspired to evade the export restrictions imposed by the Department of Commerce on CGTC through the use of intermediaries to conceal CGTC’s involvement with the transactions. Specifically, the defendants sought to illegally obtain a DTX-150 Automatic Diamond Scriber Breaker machine from Dynatex International, a Santa Rosa, California, company. The machine is used to cut thin semiconductors used in electronics, also known as silicon wafers, and under Department of Commerce regulations, requires a license and authorization to export to CGTC. The defendants sought to acquire the machine for CGTC through an intermediary company called Jiangsu Hantang International (JHI), a proxy they fraudulently represented as the purchaser and end user. To avoid detection, Li and Chen instructed Dynatex International to ensure that the export information associated with the sale did not list CGTC as the ultimate consignee of the shipment. 

Li is believed to be in the People’s Republic of China. 

Li and Chen each are charged with the following offenses, and if convicted, face maximum penalties as indicated: Conspiracy to violate IEEPA, up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine; false electronic export information activities, up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; smuggling, up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and IEEPA violations, up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security are investigating the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 25, 2024

Export Control
National Security
Press Release Number: 24-512