NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) – A Brooklyn man and a Montreal couple were charged on Tuesday in New York with scheming to violate U.S. sanctions by exporting millions of dollars of technology to Russia, including electronics supporting the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, 52; Nikolay Goltsev, 37, and Kristina Puzyreva, 32, were each charged with smuggling, conspiracy to violate sanctions and wire fraud conspiracy.
Prosecutors said Nasriddinov, a Russian-Tajikistan national, was arrested in Brooklyn and that thousands of semiconductors and other electronics were recovered from his home.
Goltsev and Puzyreva, who are married Russian-Canadian nationals, were arrested at a Manhattan hotel during a trip to visit Nasriddinov, and about $20,000 in cash was recovered from them, according to prosecutors.
Authorities said they also seized more than $1.1 million from domestic bank accounts associated with the scheme.
Each defendant was ordered detained following their initial appearances in Brooklyn federal court. None entered a plea.
The office of U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in Brooklyn want the defendants jailed pending trial, saying they could face several years in prison, pose a “serious flight risk” and have “significant” foreign ties.
Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment or could not immediately be located.
The case is one of many coordinated through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Task Force KleptoCapture, which was created to enforce sanctions, export restrictions and other measures in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. authorities said the scheme began in January 2022 and involved Brooklyn-based SH Brothers and SN Electronics arranging shipments of electronic components and integrated circuits after buying the equipment from U.S. companies.
Authorities said there were more than 300 illegal shipments valued at about $10 million, with some of the electronics later recovered from helicopters, missiles, tanks and other Russian equipment that had been seized in Ukraine.
According to the complaint, the defendants knew the electronics had military uses.
It said Nasriddinov once wrote to Goltsev “Happy Defender of the Fatherland,” prompting Goltsev to reply with a smile emoji and writing “we are defending it in the way that we can.”
Another message quoted Goltsev complaining to Puzyreva about his fingers hurting from typing account activity on his laptop, prompting his wife to respond: “Lot of money? We will get rich.”
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis.