US charges man with helping smuggle microelectronics with military uses to Russia

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -U.S. prosecutors on Thursday charged a Russian-German man with smuggling large quantities of microelectronics technology with military applications to Russia, for eventual use in that country's war in Ukraine.

Arthur Petrov, a 33-year-old dual Russian-German citizen, was arrested on Aug. 26 in Cyprus at the U.S. government's request, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan.

Petrov and two unnamed Russian co-conspirators were accused of using shell companies to conceal the fraudulent procurement from U.S. distributors of microelectronics subject to American export controls.

Prosecutors said the technology was destined for Electrocom, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based supplier of electronic components to companies that provide weapons and other equipment to the Russian military.

One of the co-conspirators is Electrocom's co-founder and general director, according to the criminal complaint against Petrov, which is dated Aug. 11 and was made public on Thursday.

A lawyer for Petrov could not immediately be identified. Electrocom did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment after business hours.

"Efforts to illicitly supply Russia with U.S.-sourced military technology represent an affront to national security," Williams said in his statement.

Petrov faces 11 criminal counts including violating U.S. export control laws, smuggling, conspiring to commit wire fraud and launder money, and other conspiracy charges.

Each count carries a maximum prison term of five to 20 years.

According to the criminal complaint, the smuggled technology included components recovered from Russian military hardware found in battlefields in Ukraine, such as guided missiles, drones, and electronic warfare and communications devices.

More than $225,000 of components were shipped during the scheme, which ran from February 2022 until August 2023, the complaint said. Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Petrov's case was coordinated in part through the U.S. Department of Justice's Task Force KleptoCapture, which was created to enforce sanctions, export restrictions and other measures in response to the Ukraine invasion.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler)