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U.S. Residents Admit to Scheme to Send Aircraft Parts to Russia

Components in the plot included a carbon disc brake system used on Boeing 737s.

The Department of Justice announced that two Russian nationals who are Florida residents pleaded guilty to conspiring to acquire and illegally export controlled aviation technology to Russia without a license, violating the Export Control Reform Act.

According to the DOJ, Oleg Sergeyevhich Patsulya and Vasilii Sergeyevich Besedin conspired to secure orders for aircraft components and parts from Russian buyers, the majority of which were commercial airline companies. The pair looked to obtain the parts, which included a Boeing 737’s carbon disc brake system, from U.S. suppliers and export them to Russia.

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Court documents estimate the scheme began around May 2022, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine and faced increased U.S. sanctions that followed, and lasted for about a year.

The DOJ release did not name any Russian companies, but a Bureau of Industry and Security release in May 2023 that announced the suspension of export privileges of the defendants also included a suspension for Russian airline Smartavia and freight forwarder Intermodal Maldives. 

The defendants attempted to deceive U.S. suppliers by indicating that the parts were going to countries other than Russia. The two also admitted to using straw buyer companies located abroad to conceal the parts’ true destination and source of revenue. 

The DOJ provided an example in which Patsulya and Besedin lied, orally and via export compliance forms, to an American company in Arizona by saying that they would send the aircraft parts to Turkey. The two chose Turkey because a Russian airline company involved in the scheme had sent money to the defendants by transferring funds from a Turkish bank account to Patsulya’s American bank account. 

American bank accounts connected to MIC P&I, a company controlled by Patsulya, collected approximately $4.6 million from Russian airline companies throughout the scheme. Patsulya’s plea included the forfeiture of the funds and other assets. 

The DOJ disclosed that the U.S. was able to detain multiple shipments that contained brake assembly technology units.

Both defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for their conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act. Patsulya also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering, which also carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. Sentencing is scheduled for July 17.

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