Former U.S. Navy Contractor and its President Sentenced for Scheme Related to Transfer of U.S. Navy Submarine Rescue Technology
WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Navy Contractor, Canada-based OceanWorks International Cooperation (“OceanWorks”) was sentenced on December 2, 2019, for a scheme to falsify facts in a disclosure to the Department of Commerce and the company’s president, Glen Omer Viau, 52, of British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced for unauthorized use of government property.
U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Houston, and Douglas R. Hassebrock, Acting Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, U.S. Department of Commerce made the announcement.
On September 10, 2019, OceanWorks pled guilty to a one-count information charging it with knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing, and covering up a material fact, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. OceanWorks’ President, Glen Omer Viau, pleaded guilty to conveying, without authority, U.S. Navy technical data to an unauthorized party. The Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced OceanWorks to a fine of $84,000 and Viau to time served and a $25,000 fine.
According to the government’s evidence, the OceanWorks scheme, which started in 2016, involved misrepresenting to and concealing from, the Office of Export Enforcement within the Department of Commerce, the true nature and extent of the transfer of U.S. Navy technical data to China. The scheme was performed in connection with a proposal by OceanWorks and an unindicted company based in China (“the Chinese Company”) to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy for the design and construction of remotely-operated submarine rescue vehicles.
OceanWorks was the prime contractor for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (“SRDRS”). One component of the SRDRS was the submarine rescue system, a tethered, remotely-operated vehicle that included a Pressurized Rescue Module (“PRM”). The Department of Commerce issued a formal determination that the PRM and its technical data could not be exported to China without a license and were controlled under U.S. regulations.
In 2016, OceanWorks was sold to the Chinese Company. Viau was hired as President of OceanWorks soon thereafter.
After Viau was hired as President, from approximately November 2016 to February 2017, OceanWorks sent U.S. Navy technical data, including multi-page technical drawings, on the PRM, a component of the U.S. Navy’s submarine rescue system, to an employee of OceanWorks and the Chinese Company. OceanWorks transferred this data to assist with a proposal to develop a similar submarine rescue vehicle system for the PLA Navy. At least one of the multi-page technical drawings was export-controlled and required a license before being sent to China.
In 2017, the Canadian Government ordered the divestiture of the OceanWorks acquisition. Following the divesture, in March 2018, OceanWorks filed with the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement a Voluntary Self Disclosure (“VSD”) identifying export violations that had occurred before Viau became President of OceanWorks. However, in the VSD, OceanWorks omitted that the Chinese Company sought to enter the same industry as the U.S. Navy and that OceanWorks worked on a proposal to design a submarine rescue system for the PLA Navy.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Special Agent in Charge Turner, and Assistant Secretary Hassebrock acknowledged the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. They also praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeff Pearlman, Jolie F. Zimmerman, and Thomas Gillice of the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney David Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, who investigated and prosecuted the case.