Indian American admits to selling dual use items to India

By Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington : The owner of an electronics firm has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to illegally export sensitive items to India for possible use in ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles and fighter jets.

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Parthasarathy Sudarshan, 47, admitted in US District Court for the District of Columbia that he took part in a scheme to provide the dual use parts to government entities in India including Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL), the US Justice Department said Thursday.

Both VSSC, participating in India’s space launch vehicle programme, and BDL, participating in development and production of ballistic missiles, are on the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List to which exports are restricted, it said.

In addition to supplying VSSC and BDL with components, Sudarshan acquired and shipped 500 microprocessors to the Aeronautical Development Establishment engaged in the development of Tejas, a fighter jet, twice in 2004 and 2006, prosecutors said.

The microprocessors were necessary for the navigation and weapons systems of the Tejas and were shipped without the required export licenses, they said.

Between 2002 and 2006, Sudarshan acquired electrical components that have applications in missile guidance and firing systems, but concealed the true destination of the parts, prosecutors said.

According to court documents, Sudarshan did business as Cirrus Electronics and said he was the CEO, managing director, president and group head. It has offices in Simpsonville, South Carolina, Singapore and Bangalore.

He had many years of experience as an electrical engineer in the research and development section of India’s state-run defence industry before he emigrated to Singapore and started Cirrus in 1997, prosecutors said.

“By fraudulently acquiring and shipping controlled missile technology overseas, this defendant violated both our federal law and our national security,” said Kenneth Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security.

“The defendant participated in a clandestine network that circumvented our export laws and put sophisticated technology in the hands of foreign companies that were listed as end-users of concern for proliferation reasons,” said US Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor.

Sudarshan pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors in which he agreed to cooperate. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 16 and he faces up to five years in prison, though he could get less because of his cooperation.

Sudarshan was one of four Cirrus defendants charged last year. The others were Mythili Gopal, the company’s international sales manager, A. K. N. Prasad in Bangalore and Sampath Sundar in Singapore.

According to the indictment, Cirrus made the illicit shipments working closely with an unidentified Indian government official located in Washington who was not charged.

In a separate case, a Minnesota company, MTS Systems Corp, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $400,000 for submitting false export license applications involving proposed shipments to India of equipment to test nuclear power plant components, officials said.

Cirrus Electronics and its other wings in Singapore and Bangalore, were placed under an export ban last June after it was accused of shipping dual-use sensitive items to India for possible use in missiles, missile launch vehicles and other defence projects.

The six-month ban was extended by another 180 days in December by the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce.