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Chinese Nationals Accused of Trying to Illegally Export U.S. Semiconductor Tech

The defendants allegedly tried to send a machine to a prohibited Chinese company.

The Department of Justice announced an unsealed indictment accusing a pair of Chinese nationals of engaging in criminal activities linked to a plot to export U.S. technology to restricted end users in China.

According to the DOJ, 44-year-old Han Li and 64-year-old Lin Chen sought to export semiconductor manufacturing technology, including a machine for processing silicon wafer microchips made by a California-based company. The alleged actions violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Export Administration Regulations. 

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The indictment accused Li and Chen of trying to obtain a DTX-150 Automatic Diamond Scriber Breaker, a machine that cuts thin semiconductors, from California-based Dynatex International. The defendants also allegedly conspired to send the technology to Changdu GaStone Technology Company (CGTC), a Chinese firm that was added to the Department of Commerce’s restricted Entity List in 2014. 

Li and Chen allegedly attempted to acquire the machine by using an intermediary company named Jiangsu Hantang International, which they fraudulently portrayed as the buyer and end user. They also made sure that the export documentation did not identify CGTC as the final recipient of the shipment. 

Chen was arrested in Chicago and Li is believed to currently be in China. However, they were both charged with conspiracy to violate the IEEPA, IEEPA violations, false electronic export information activities and smuggling. The charges can amount to 55 years in prison and $2.5 million in fines each. 

The joint investigation involves Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security and the FBI. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence.

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