A former employee of L-3 Communications’ Space and Navigation Division was recently sentenced to 70 months in federal prison for exporting U.S. technology to China. Sixing Liu, 49, (aka “Steve Liu”) of Flanders, New Jersey, was convicted on nine counts, which range from lying to federal agents to six counts of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) violations. Liu is a Chinese national.
According to the federal documents released, in 2010, Liu stole thousands of electronic files from his former employer – L-3 Communications in New Jersey. The files contained detailed information about guidance systems used in missiles, rockets and UAVs. The U.S. government charged Liu with taking these files to China and also with delivering presentations about the technology at several Chinese universities, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This type of information meets the definition of “technical data” and is located on the United States Munitions List, thereby making it subject to ITAR controls. Any export of that data requires a license by the U.S. government, and (of course) would be prohibited for transfer to China – a country subject to a U.S. arms embargo.
To make matters worse, the government charged Liu with lying to Department of Homeland Security officials about the nature of his work upon returning to the U.S. from China. In addition to the prison term, Liu will also serve three years of supervised release and pay a fine of $15,000.
It’s interesting to note that, during the trial, evidence was given that Liu’s company (L-3 Communications) had provided their former employee with export control training and had also notified Liu that many of the company’s products were controlled by ITAR and EAR. This is a good reminder for any corporate compliance officer or legal counsel who is concerned about your company’s potential for export violations!
You can read more about this case at the DOJ website here.
Tom Reynolds is the President of Export Solutions, a consultancy firm which specializes in helping companies with import/export compliance.