Russian accused of illegally exporting US military tech flees after Italy OKs extradition
Stars and Stripes March 23, 2023
NAPLES, Italy — A Russian businessman wanted by the United States for smuggling Venezuelan oil and sensitive American military technology to Russia fled house arrest in Italy this week after a Milan court ruled he could be extradited.
Artyom Uss, 41, cut off his monitoring bracelet Wednesday and left the Milan home where he was staying, Italian newspaper la Reppublica reported Thursday.
Italian police are searching for Uss, who is the son of the governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, a vast political division in Siberia.
Russian authorities had also issued an arrest warrant for Uss on money laundering charges, a tactic that could have hindered U.S. efforts to extradite him.
In January, he asked Italy to send him to Russia, saying he did not want to be extradited to the United States, but the Italian judge reserved the right to decide on the U.S. request, la Reppublica reported Jan. 16.
On Tuesday, the Milan court ruled that Uss could be extradited to the U.S. on charges of bank fraud and sanctions evasion in relation to the smuggling of millions of barrels of embargoed Venezuelan oil to Russia and China, la Reppublica reported the same day.
But the court also decided that conditions did not exist for extraditing Uss on charges of money laundering and fraudulent purchase and export of U.S. military technology, some of which was found on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to the report.
Uss is charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., bank fraud conspiracy and money laundering, among 12 criminal counts specified in a 49-page indictment unsealed Oct. 19, 2022, in a federal court in New York.
Four other Russians, including Uss’ business partner, Yury Orekhov, and two Venezuelans also are charged in the indictment.
Federal prosecutors say Uss and Orekhov used their German company, Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau, to hide illegal purchases of military and sensitive dual-use technologies from U.S. companies and export them to Russia.
The scheme, in operation since at least 2018, included purchases of advanced semiconductors and microprocessors used in fighter aircraft, missile systems, smart munitions, radar, satellites and other space-based military applications, according to the indictment.
“Components manufactured by several of the U.S. companies were found in seized Russian weapons platforms in Ukraine,” the indictment states.
Prosecutors say Uss and Orekhov also used their company to smuggle Venezuelan oil through the American financial system.
“In furtherance of the scheme and to launder the illicit proceeds, the defendants employed a vast network of shell companies and bank accounts throughout the world and utilized cryptocurrencies and bulk cash transactions,” the indictment states.