July 16, 2021 – A Chinese national was sentenced Wednesday to three years and six months in federal prison for conspiring to submit false export information through the federal government’s Automated Export System and to export maritime raiding craft and engines to China fraudulently, and attempting to export that equipment fraudulently in violation of U.S. law. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to the administrative forfeiture of $114,834.27, the amount caused to be wired to a U.S. manufacturer to purchase the raiding craft and engines.
Ge Songtao, 51, of Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, pleaded guilty on Nov. 2, 2020. According to court documents, Ge was the chairman of Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd., a company headquartered in Shanghai, China. Beginning in 2018, Ge was interested in identifying a source of supply of U.S.-manufactured combat rubber raiding craft equipped with engines that could operate using gasoline, diesel fuel or jet fuel. These vessels and multi-fuel engines are used by the U.S. military and can be operated after being launched from a submerged submarine or dropped into the ocean by an aircraft. No comparable engine is manufactured in China.
One of Ge’s U.S.-based employees, co-defendant Yang Yang, attempted to order seven of the raiding craft equipped with these engines from a U.S. manufacturer. When the U.S. manufacturer suggested that Yang purchase cheaper gasoline-fueled engines, she insisted that she wanted to purchase the military-model multi-fuel engines. To induce the manufacturer to sell this equipment, Yang falsely represented that her customer was an entity called United Vision Limited in Hong Kong, rather than Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. in Shanghai. One of Yang’s Chinese co-workers had told her that American manufacturers would be more likely to sell to an entity in Hong Kong rather than one in mainland China. By misrepresenting what company was buying the equipment and where it was located, Yang caused the entry of false information in the Department of Commerce’s Automated Export System in violation of federal law.
To facilitate the purchase of the raiding craft and engines, Ge arranged for wire transfers to a separate company in Hong Kong, Belt Consulting Company Limited, which in turn wired $114,834.27 to the U.S. manufacturer. He also coordinated plans to send an employee to Hong Kong to receive the raiding craft and engines and transship them to mainland China. The plot failed and authorities arrested Ge and his co-defendants before the raiding craft and engines were shipped overseas.
On Sept. 15, 2020, Yang pleaded guilty to the same two charges to which Ge pleaded guilty, and on Dec. 9, 2020, was sentenced to a time-served sentence or the equivalent of approximately 14 months’ imprisonment. On Aug. 13, 2020, co-defendant Zheng Yan pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit false export information and to export the raiding craft and engines fraudulently in violation of U.S. law, and on March 31, was sentenced to a time-served sentence or the equivalent of approximately 6 months’ imprisonment and 11 months’ home-detention. The trial of remaining co-defendant, Fan Yang, is scheduled to begin on August 2.
Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppmann for the Middle District of Florida made the announcement.
The FBI, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce – Bureau of Industry and Security, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Controls Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Coolican of the Middle District of Florida prosecuted the case.