In Minneapolis, three men pleaded guilty for illegal exportation of high-tech carbon fiber to the China Academy of Space Technology. Each man was convicted with one count of conspiracy to violate Export Administration Regulations. United States District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis sentenced Jian Wei Ding, 51, of Singapore, to three years and ten months behind bars. Kok Tong Lim, 37, of Singapore, cooperated during the investigation so his sentence was less harsh, a little over one year of confinement and two years of supervised release. And, Ping Cheng, 46, of Manhasset, New York, was sentenced to one year of probation because of his cooperation.
The three men’s plea agreements stated “they exported and attempted to export high-modulus carbon fiber material without the mandatory license.” Because this material is also used for rockets, satellites, spacecraft and uranium enrichment, the U.S. requires one to possess an export license.
According to statements released by the U.S. attorney’s office, Ding oversees multiple Singaporean import and export companies. Ding, Cheng, and Lim worked together, each playing a different role in the sequence. Unfortunately for the trio, they were unaware that they were also working with an undercover company from Minnesota which professed to supply aerospace materials. Cheng was sent to Minnesota by Ding twice, ordered to inspect the Minnesota company’s material. He was then instructed to export the material he bought, to Singapore and Hong Kong without the required export license on April 7, 2008. The men were indicted on October 28, 2008.
The acting assistant secretary of commerce spoke of this situation as being an example to all about the serious degree of illegal importing and exporting according to our nation’s laws. These men were held accountable for their actions and hopefully their experience will prevent future similar occurrences’. Do you think the crime fit the punishment? Should they have just gotten a slap on the wrist, or is jail time necessary?