Taiwanese Busted for Aiding NKorean Nukes!

Posted in the China Forum


New York, NY

#1 May 9, 2013
US Nabs Taiwanese Duo for Aid to N. Korea's Nuke Program

A Taiwanese father-son duo have been arrested and charged by US federal prosecutors with conspiring to help North Korea develop weapons of mass destruction, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday.

The two men, father and son, are both surnamed Tsai, said Bruce Linghu, director-general of MOFA’s Department of North American Affairs. Yueh-Hsun “Gary” Tsai, 36, was arrested in Chicago last week while his father Hsien Tai “Alex” Tsai, 67, was arrested in Estonia on the same day. The elder Tsai is being held at an Estonian detention center until he is extradited to the US for trial. Estonia and the US have an extradition treaty.

Officials from Taiwan’s representative offices in Chicago and in Latvia, which neighbors Estonia, are scheduled to meet with the two Taiwan nationals.

The US is charging the duo with shipping items to North Korea that could be used to support its advanced weapons program. One of the items they were allegedly conspired to export is “a Bryant center hole grinder,” a machine tool used to drill precise, smooth holes through elongated metal, according to the federal criminal complaint.

The tool could be used to build missiles to deliver nuclear warheads. The US generally considers all machine tools capable of highly precise metalwork to be potentially useful in building weapons of mass destruction. The US bans the export of all types of advanced machine tools to N. Korea, Iran, China, Russia and other nations deemed to be potential military adversaries.

The duo are charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by evading restrictions, money laundering and conspiring to defraud the US.

Violating IEEPA carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Conspiracy to defraud the US carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Following a hearing Monday in Chicago Gary Tsai was released on a $500,000 bond secured by his suburban Chicago home and a $90,000 cashier’s check under the condition that he wear an electronic monitoring device. Gary Tsai and his wife had lived in their Glenview home for several years.

The attorney for the younger Tsai said his client was “helping his father” buy equipment commonly used in American industry. He added that prosecutors did not try to keep his client locked up because he has no criminal history. He claims that the criminal complaint is based on what his client’s father did 2 1/2 years ago and that his client didn’t know that any of the equipment was destined for N. Korea.

The elder Tsai was sanctioned in 2009 by the U.S. Treasury Department, along with Trans Merits and another of his companies based on a finding that he had been supplying N. Korea with “goods with weapons productions capabilities” since the late 1990s. That sanction was based in part on a conviction a year earlier in Taiwan for forging invoices and shipping restricted materials to N. Korea.

Eight months later the Tsai duo and others bought a “Bryant center hole grinder” from a suburban Chicago company and exported it to Taiwan under a false name, according to the criminal complaint.

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