Indian head of Cirrus pleads not guilty in missile-technology export case
Washington : The Indian head of an electronics supply company, Parthasarathy Sudarshan, has pleaded not guilty to charges he shipped US computer technology to India for use in missiles and other weapon systems.
Sudarshan, 46, founder of Cirrus Electronics, a company with offices in South Carolina, Singapore and India, made the plea at his first court appearance here Tuesday as he was arraigned on the charges before US Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson.
He and co-accused Mythili Gopal, 36, the company's international sales manager were arrested Mar 23 and had their initial appearances in the US District Court in Greenville, South Carolina. The case has been assigned to US District Judge Ricardo Urbina, who has scheduled a status hearing for Apr 17 for both Sudarshan and Gopal.
US Department of Justice said the arrests were the result of a 15-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia. It charges the two with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act and with acting as illegal agents of a foreign government.
The indictment also charges A.K.N. Prasad of Bangalore, India, and Sampath Sundar, 47, of Singapore, for their roles in the offences.
If convicted of the charges, Sudarshan faces a likely sentencing guideline range of 97-121 months in prison, while Gopal faces a likely sentencing guideline range of 63-78 months. Prasad and Sundar face likely sentencing guideline ranges of 78-97 months, if convicted of the charges.
The indictment alleges that, between 2002 and 2006, Sudarshan and Gopal acquired in the US electrical components that could have applications in missile guidance and firing systems for the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and Bharat Dynamics, Ltd (BDL).
The two concealed from vendors the true end-users of the goods. In particular, the indictment alleges how, in the case of one vendor, Cirrus provided the company with fraudulent certificates that claimed that the enduser in India was a non-restricted entity, when, in fact, the items were for VSSC.
There were no export licenses for any of the shipments to VSSC and BDL, the indictment alleged and to conceal from the US government that goods were going to entities in India on the Department of Commerce Entities List, Cirrus would route the products through its Singapore office and then send the packages on to India.
In addition to supplying VSSC and BDL with components, the accused acquired microprocessors for the Tejas, a fighter jet under development. The microprocessors were necessary for the navigation and weapons guidance systems of the Tejas.
Because the microprocessors are defence articles on the US Munitions List, the State Department must license any export of the products, it said.
On two occasions in 2004 and 2006, Cirrus caused the shipment of a total of 500 microprocessors to the Indian entity responsible for the development of the Tejas. There were no licenses for these shipments, the indictment alleged.
US Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor said the case demonstrates the US government's commitment to combat "Networks that procure US technology whose export is restricted to combat proliferation and then seek to evade US export and licensing regulations undermine our national security."
Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L. Wainstein said, "These arrests put a network of technology smugglers out of business and demonstrate that we have no tolerance for weapons proliferators who illegally supply entities with weapons technology that has applications in the development of aircraft, missile and aerospace systems."
"This case clearly demonstrates that the United States will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who illegally procure and export components for space launch vehicle and ballistic missile programmes, even when they attempt to mask their illegal activities by diverting sensitive components through third countries," said Commerce Assistant Secretary Darryl W. Jackson.