Man Admits To Illegally Exporting ‘Sophisticated And Controlled’ Aircraft Tech To Russian Security Service, Feds Say

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John Oyewale Contributor
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A Kansas businessman admitted to violating export control and money laundering laws by illegally exporting U.S.-made aviation electronics to Russia before and after Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Tuesday.

Douglas Edward Robertson, 56, of Olathe, pleaded guilty to involvement in “a years-long conspiracy to circumvent U.S. export laws by filing false export forms with the U.S. government and, after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, continuing to sell and export sophisticated and controlled avionics equipment to customers in Russia without the required licenses from the U.S. Department of Commerce,” according to the DOJ’s statement. Robertson, the former vice president of KanRus Trading Company Inc., was arrested Mar. 2023.

Robertson reportedly admitted he conspired with certain others to smuggle avionics to Russia and Russians in other countries between 2020 and Mar. 2023. He and his co-conspirators did so by filing false export forms and failing to file certain required export forms with the U.S. government. The suspects “lied about the exports’ value, end users, and end destinations,” according to the statement.

The DOJ named two of Robertson’s co-conspirators as Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky, a fellow Kansan and the former President and owner of KanRus; and Oleg Chistyakov, aka Olegs Čitsjakovs, a Latvian and former KanRus broker.

The threesome at least once in 2021 “smuggled a repaired Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) to [Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB] by removing the FSB sticker from the device before sending the device to a U.S. company to be repaired and then exporting the TCAS back to the FSB in Russia,” the statement revealed.

The FSB was under U.S. sanctions at the time for its interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, according to the DOJ. (RELATED: Dual US-Russian Citizen Admits To Exporting Weapons Parts To Russia Amid War In Ukraine)

Robertson admitted that he and his co-conspirators continued to export avionics to Russia after its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine Feb. 2022. They facilitated the illegal business by lying to U.S. suppliers and the U.S. government and using intermediary shipping companies and bank accounts in various foreign countries, according to the statement.

The U.S. reportedly sanctioned many of the entities and persons involved in the illegal export scheme Dec. 6. 2023.

Robertson faces up to five years in prison for the conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each of the two export control violation counts, and 20 years in prison for the money laundering count, the DOJ said. He will be sentenced Oct. 3.

Buyanovsky reportedly pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering Dec. 2023. He agreed to forfeit $50,000 and over $450,000 worth of avionics equipment and accessories.

Chistyakov reportedly was arrested Mar. 19 in Riga, Latvia, where he awaits extradition.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate those who seek to undermine the effectiveness of export controls that protect critical U.S. technology and deter Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen partly said.