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US man charged with exporting tech to HAL

July 31, 2007 10:04 IST

A California man has been charged with illegally exporting sensitive technology to the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in 1999 and 2000, at a time when, US prosecutors said, there were restrictions on sending such material to it without authorisation and license.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L Wainstein and US Attorney for the Central District of California George S Cardona said Samuel Shangteh Peng, 56, has agreed to plead guilty to five counts of unlawful exports to a prohibited entity, each of which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

The charges, which relates to exporting of sensitive technology that can be used in civilian and military aircraft to the Engine Division of the Bangalore-based HAL, were filed in the US District Court in Santa Ana, California, Monday.

"The defendant circumvented our export laws and put sophisticated equipment in the hands of a foreign company that was listed as an end-user of concern for proliferation reasons. With this prosecution, the defendant will no longer be able to make a profit at the expense of our national security," Wainstein said.

Peng was an international sales manager and responsible for all exports at Endevco Corp, a California-based firm that manufactures electronic sensors, vibration testing equipment, and other technology with civilian and military applications.

In 1998, the US Department of Commerce designated HAL as an end-user of concern, making it unlawful for anyone in the US to export certain goods or technology of US origin to HAL without authorisation and an export license from the DoC. HAL was removed from the prohibited entity list in 2001.

During 1999 and 2000, Peng allegedly exported to HAL vibration amplifiers, cable assemblies and vibration processor units, which can be used in military and civilian aircraft to extract vibration information from engines and to simulate output for calibrating, servicing, and testing that equipment.

According to the complaint, at no time did Peng have the required export license to export vibration amplifiers, cable assemblies, and vibration processor units from the US to HAL.

Peng will appear for an arraignment in US District Court in Santa Ana on August 20 next.

The case is being investigated by the US Department of Commerce, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and US Naval Criminal Investigative Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd T Tristan of the Santa Ana Branch Office of the US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

Dharam Shourie in New York