FBI says Houston company coached employees to hide scheme to sell cutting-edge electronics to Russia
HOUSTON — An FBI agent testified Friday that employees at a Houston company were coached to hide information about the cutting-edge microelectronics the firm was buying from U.S. manufacturers and later illegally reselling to Russian military and intelligence agencies.
U.S. authorities have arrested Alexander Fishenko, owner of Arc Electronics Inc., and seven of his employees, including Alexander Posobilov, who was the company's director of procurement. They are accused of being involved in a scheme to illicitly sell military technology to Russia, starting in 2008.
U.S. Magistrate Judge George Hanks Jr. denied bail for Posobilov, 58, after a detention hearing Friday. Hanks agreed with prosecutors that Posobilov, a Russian immigrant who later became a U.S. citizen, was a flight risk.
A detention hearing for Fishenko and three of his workers was postponed until Wednesday. Two employees will have their hearings Tuesday. One employee was granted bail of $250,000 on Friday.
During Friday's detention hearing, FBI agent Crosby Houpt testified about email exchanges and phone conversations Posobilov had in which he discussed how to forge invoices to hide from U.S. manufacturers where the equipment Arc Electronics was buying from them was ending up. Authorities say the microelectronics sold by Arc could have a wide range of military uses, including radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers.
One email exchange from August 2011 showed Posobilov lying to a U.S. manufacturer, telling a representative of that company that equipment Arc Electronics was buying was for a fishing boat navigation system, Crosby said.
“Mr. Posobilov knew the parts were for the Russian Navy,” the FBI agent said.
Richard Kuniansky, Posobilov's attorney, suggested there was no direct evidence that showed any of the electronics Arc sold ended up in Russian military equipment. He also tried to portray his client as a humble man who earned a “meager salary.”
Fishenko, 46, is accused of scheming to purposely evade strict export controls for cutting-edge microelectronics, of operating inside the United States as an unregistered agent of the Russian government, and of money laundering. Fishenko's attorney, Eric Reed, said he plans to review the charges against his client with a critical eye.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement, noted the defendants are not charged with espionage.
According to court documents, Fishenko was born in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan and graduated from a technical institute in St. Petersburg before coming to America in 1994.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- White House ricochets in nonprofits’ birth control coverage fray
- Charities reconsider fundraising activities
- Scientists hope tiny robotic bee’s big dreams take flight
- Search for emergency shelters dropped as influx of immigrant children slows
- NASA expected to hire private rocket
- Mudslides plague Washington state after wildfire strips hillsides
- Kentucky firefighters recovering from ice stunt shocks
- Retailers warned about software
- Ferguson residents fear return of rioting, looting
- Reid apologizes for jokes at Asian business event
- Obama pressured to obliterate ISIS as attack risks rise