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

A Kansas businessman has admitted to violating export control and money laundering laws by illegally exporting U.S.-made aviation electronics to Russia before and after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Douglas Edward Robertson, 56, of Olathe, pleaded guilty to engaging in a “long-standing conspiracy to circumvent U.S. export laws by submitting false export documents to the U.S. Government and continuing to sell and export advanced, controlled aviation electronics to customers in Russia after Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 without obtaining required authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce.” Department of Justice statementRobertson, a former vice president of Canlas Trading Company, was arrested in March 2023.

According to the report, Robertson admitted to conspiring with several others to smuggle aviation electronics to Russia and Russians in other countries between 2020 and March 2023. He and his co-conspirators submitted false export documents and failed to submit certain export documents required by the U.S. government. The suspects “lied about the value, end user and final destination of the exports,” according to the statement.

The Justice Department named two of Robertson's co-conspirators: Cyril Gregory Buyanovskiy, a Kansas native and former president and owner of Kansas Russ, and Oleg Chistyakov (aka Olegs Chistyakovs), a Latvian national and former broker for Kansas Russ.

At least once in 2021, the trio allegedly “smuggled in a repaired Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).” [Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB] “The device was stolen by removing the FSB stickers before being sent to a US company for repairs, and then the TCAS was exported to Russia's FSB,” the statement said.

At the time, the FSB was under US sanctions for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, according to the Justice Department. (Related: US-Russian dual citizen admits to exporting weapons parts to Russia during Ukraine war)

Robertson admitted that he and his co-conspirators continued to export aviation electronics to Russia after Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The statement said the co-conspirators lied to U.S. suppliers and the U.S. government and used various foreign intermediary shipping companies and bank accounts to facilitate their illicit business.

On December 6, 2023, the United States reportedly imposed sanctions on a number of entities and individuals involved in the illegal export scheme.

According to the Department of Justice, Robertson faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, 20 years in prison for each of the two export control violations, and 20 years in prison for the money laundering charge. He is due to be sentenced on October 3.

Buyanovskiy reportedly pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering in December 2023. He agreed to forfeit $50,000 and $450,000 worth of aviation electronics and accessories.

Chistyakov was arrested in the Latvian capital, Riga, on March 19 and is reportedly awaiting extradition.

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate those who seek to undermine the effectiveness of export controls that protect America's critical technologies and deter Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen said in part.

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