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Press Release

Russian Nationals Admit to Illegally Sending Controlled Aviation Technology to Russia

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Defendants Orchestrated More Than $4.5 Million in Unlawful Transactions, Sold Sensitive Aircraft Parts to Russian Companies

Two Russian nationals pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) in connection with a scheme to acquire and unlawfully export controlled aviation technology to Russian end users. One of the defendants, Oleg Sergeyevhich Patsulya, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit international money laundering.

According to court documents, Patsulya and Vasilii Sergeyevich Besedin, both of whom reside in Miami-Dade County, Florida, conspired with each other and several others to evade U.S. export laws and regulations to send aircraft technology from the United States to Russia. According to court documents, the unlawful scheme began in or about May 2022, in the wake of Russia’s most recent invasion of Ukraine and enhanced U.S. sanctions on Russia.

“These defendants smuggled sensitive aircraft technology into Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and did so in violation of laws designed to protect America’s national security,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today’s guilty pleas reflect the seriousness with which the Justice Department approaches violations of the law that endanger the United States and benefit our adversaries.”

“Make no mistake, threats to U.S. economic security are threats to our national security,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “When adversaries steal our technology to strengthen their economies, American industry suffers. The FBI and our Disruptive Technology Strike Force partners remain steadfast in our commitment to protect U.S. jobs and innovation by preventing the illegal export of sensitive technology.”

“By their own admission, the defendants fraudulently procured millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-origin aircraft equipment to smuggle  to Russian airline companies,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “These pleas are the latest example of the Department’s commitment to bringing to justice those whose crimes enrich the Russian regime.”

“Disrupting the illegal export of sensitive American goods and technologies to sanctioned foreign actors is a critical priority requiring a whole-of-government approach,” said U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino for the District of Arizona. “This case has been a textbook example of how a collaborative strike force can work together effectively and nimbly to dismantle a sanctions-evading scheme and to prosecute those individuals who profit from it.”

“These guilty pleas are just the latest demonstration of our unwavering commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine and stopping those who attempt to prop up the Russian aviation sector,” said Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod. “We continue to take aggressive enforcement against those who violate our Russia controls, including those who lie about the identities of their customers in attempts to conceal Russia as the true destination for their goods.”

Beginning in or about May 2022 through on or about May 11, 2023, Patsulya and Besedin conspired with each other and several others to obtain orders for various aircraft parts and components from Russian buyers – primarily commercial airline companies – and then fulfill those requests by acquiring the parts from the United States suppliers, including a supplier based in Arizona, and unlawfully exporting the parts to Russia. The defendants admitted to knowing the items were controlled and required a license from the Department of Commerce to export.

For example, the defendants conspired to export multiple shipments of a carbon disc brake system used on Boeing 737 aircraft. When they contacted various U.S. suppliers in efforts to obtain the brake system, Besedin and Patsulya provided false information that the parts were intended for countries other than Russia. The United States was able to detain, prior to export, multiple shipments made by the defendants containing units of the brake assembly technology.

Besedin and Patsulya further admitted that they attempted to conceal the illegal exports and avoid detection by law enforcement, including by making false representations about the identities of their true customers and using straw buyer-companies located overseas to obscure the origin of revenue. For example, on Sept. 8, 2022, Besedin and Patsulya traveled to Arizona to close a deal with a U.S. company, in which the defendants sought to purchase units of the brake assembly technology. During their discussions with the company, the defendants misrepresented that the aircraft parts were going to be exported to Turkey, when they were in fact destined for Russia. The defendants made false statements both orally to the company and in the export compliance forms. In connection with this transaction, the defendants received money from a Russian airline company to make the purchase. The funds were transferred to Patsulya’s American bank account from a Turkish bank account which had previously received the money from Russia.

In total, throughout the conspiracy, American bank accounts associated with MIC P&I LLC, a company controlled by Patsulya, received at least $4,582,288 sent from Russian airline companies through Turkish bank accounts to purchase aircraft parts and components intended for unlawful export. As part of Patsulya’s plea, he agreed to forfeit, among other assets, a sum of money equal to $4,582,288.

Both Besedin and Patsulya pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export items from the United States without a license in violation of the Export Control Reform Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Patsulya additionally pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing is scheduled for June 17.

The BIS Phoenix Field Office and the FBI Phoenix Field Office are conducting the joint investigation. The BIS Boston Field Office, FBI Miami Field Office, HSI Phoenix Field Office, Customs and Border Protection-Phoenix Field Office, and the U.S. Marshals Office in Miami provided valuable assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd M. Allison and William G. Voit for the District of Arizona and Trial Attorney Christopher M. Rigali of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida provided valuable assistance.

Today’s actions were coordinated through the Justice and Commerce Departments’ Disruptive Technology Strike Force and the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture. The Disruptive Technology Strike Force is an interagency law enforcement strike force co-led by the Departments of Justice and Commerce designed to target illicit actors, protect supply chains, and prevent critical technology from being acquired by authoritarian regimes and hostile nation states. Task Force KleptoCapture is an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with its allies and partners, in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.

Updated April 5, 2024

Topics
Export Control
National Security
Press Release Number: 24-402