Montreal Couple and U.S. Citizen Facing Charges in New York Over Illicit Tech Exports to Russia

Montreal Couple and U.S. Citizen Facing Charges in New York Over Illicit Tech Exports to Russia
Authorities said there were more than 300 illegal shipments valued with some of the electronics later recovered from helicopters, missiles, tanks and other Russian equipment that had been seized in Ukraine. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

A Montreal-based couple and a Brooklyn resident have been charged in New York over an alleged scheme to violate U.S. sanctions by exporting millions of dollars worth of technology to Russia. The technology is believed to have supported the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.

Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, 52, a Russian-Tajikistan national, was arrested in Brooklyn, and authorities subsequently recovered thousands of semiconductors and other electronics from his residence. Meanwhile, Nikolay Goltsev, 37, and Kristina Puzyreva, 32, both Russian Canadian nationals, were apprehended at a Manhattan hotel during a visit to Nasriddinov. Prosecutors found approximately $20,000 US in cash in their possession.

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in Brooklyn expressed the gravity of the charges, emphasizing the potential for significant prison sentences, the seriousness of the charges, and the defendants’ substantial foreign ties. The identities of the lawyers representing the defendants remain unknown.

Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, Ivan J. Arvelo, highlighted the severity of the situation, stating, “These defendants are alleged to have illegally exported millions of dollars in electronics to support the Kremlin in its ongoing attacks of Ukraine.”

Further investigations unveiled that this operation began in January 2022. The accused are believed to have used two Brooklyn-based companies, SH Brothers and SN Electronics, to orchestrate shipments of electronic components and integrated circuits after purchasing the equipment from U.S. companies.

FBI Director Christopher Wray highlighted the importance of global cooperation in tackling multiple threats simultaneously. He emphasized the need for united efforts to address the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, while also countering the generational threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Wray reassured that the FBI will continue to support its partners in Ukraine and Israel while safeguarding the public and economy – Oct 17, 2023

U.S. authorities have identified over 300 illegal shipments with an estimated value of about $10 million. Disturbingly, some of these electronics were later located in helicopters, missiles, tanks, and other Russian military equipment seized in Ukraine.

Chilling electronic correspondence between the suspects suggests a clear awareness of their actions’ implications. Nasriddinov, in one message to Goltsev, wrote, “Happy Defender of the Fatherland.” Goltsev’s response included a smile emoji, saying, “we are defending it in the way that we can.” Another exchange revealed Goltsev complaining about typing-related finger pain, to which Puzyreva replied, “Lot of money? We will get rich.”

This case emerges as one of several operations coordinated through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Task Force KleptoCapture. The task force was instituted to ensure the enforcement of sanctions, export restrictions, and other measures in retaliation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge at the FBI, emphasized Russia’s disregard for U.S. laws, pointing out their reliance on illegal procurement networks for their military needs.

The U.S. Attorney stressed that the charges are mere allegations at this point, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. As this case unravels, it underscores the importance of upholding international sanctions and export controls, spotlighting the potential ramifications of breaching these restrictions. The unfolding events serve as a stark reminder of the risks posed by illicit activities and the role of international bodies in preserving global peace and security.