Man arrested for illegal export of computer equipment to Pak atomic body

65-year-old Pakistani-American Obaidullah Syed faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted

A 65-year-old Pakistani-American has been arrested for allegedly exporting high-performance computer equipment and software application solutions from the US to Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission without necessary government approval, according to federal prosecutors.

Obaidullah Syed, who owned Pakistan-based Business System International (BSI) Private Limited and Chicago-based BSI USA, was arrested on September 16 and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted. He currently remains in federal custody.

Federal prosecutors said the two companies owned by Syed provided high-performance computing platforms, servers, and software application solutions.

From 2006 to 2015, Syed and BSI conspired with company employees in Pakistan to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by exporting computer equipment from the US to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) without obtaining the required authorisation from the US Department of Commerce, according to an indictment returned in the District Court in Chicago.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission is a Pakistani government agency responsible for the design, fabrication, and testing of high explosives and nuclear weapons parts, uranium mining and enrichment, and the development of solid-fuelled ballistic missiles.

The indictment charged Syed and BSI with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and foreign trade regulations, and one count of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Syed, BSI and the other conspirators falsely represented to the US-based computer manufacturers that the illegal shipments were intended for Pakistan-based universities, Syed’s business, or Syed himself.

As a matter of fact, they knew that the true end user and ultimate consignee of each shipment was either the PAEC or a research institute that trained the agency’s engineers and scientists, the indictment stated.

In so doing, according to the indictment, Syed and his company caused the US-based computer manufacturers to submit to the US government shipping documents, including Shippers Export Declarations, that listed false end-users for the US-origin goods, thereby undermining the US government’s ability to stop the illegal shipments, the Department of Justice said.

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