Russian Charged with Tech Smuggling and Money Laundering

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A Russian security agent has been charged with smuggling ammunition and dual-use technology, including various electronics which helped the Kremlin war machine.

Vadim Konoshchenok, 48, of Tallinn, was arrested in the Estonian capital and extradited to the US on July 13.

He’s accused of violating US export controls, economic sanctions and other laws by shipping goods from the US to Russia via Estonia. He used a front company called Stonebridge Resources, but the real players behind the operation are thought to be Moscow-based Serniya Engineering and Sertal LLC (the Serniya Network).

The companies are believed to be acting under the direction of Russian intelligence to procure dual-use technologies, in order to help Russia research and develop nuclear and hypersonic weapons, quantum computing and other military applications.

Read more on DoJ action against suspected Russian criminals: Russian National Arrested in Connection With LockBit Ransomware.

The Serniya Network companies were sanctioned by the Treasury February 2022 and described as “instrumental to the Russian Federation’s war machine.”

Konoshchenok was stopped by Estonian authorities while trying to cross into Russia with around 35 different types of semiconductors and electronic components, including several export-controlled US items.

He’s also been repeatedly stopped by Estonian border officials attempting to smuggle hundreds of thousands of US-made rounds into Russia, including 6.5 mm, 7 mm, .338 and .308 magnum rounds, which are often used by snipers, as well as military-grade .223 rounds.

Court documents contain information from electronic communications obtained by the US government in which Konoshchenok identifies himself as an FSB “Colonel,” complete with a photograph wearing his FSB uniform. His fee for the work was allegedly 10% for sanctioned items.

The DoJ indictment charged Konoshchenok with conspiracy and other charges related to a global procurement and money laundering network on behalf of the Russian government.

If convicted he faces 30 years behind bars.

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