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Man guilty in scheme to ship military boats to China

Man guilty in scheme to ship military boats to China

A person in handcuffs. (File photo: Reuters)

JACKSONVILLE, Florida: A Chinese man has been convicted in Florida in a scheme to buy and ship inflatable military boats from the United States to China.

Ge Songtao, 50, pleaded guilty on Monday (Nov 2) in Jacksonville federal court to conspiring to submit false export information to fraudulently export maritime raiding craft and engines to China and to attempting to fraudulently export that equipment, according to court records.

He faces up to 15 years in prison. No sentencing date was immediately announced.

Ge Songtao was the chairman of a Chinese company called Shanghai Breeze Technology when one of his US-based employees, Yang Yang, attempted to order seven combat rubber raiding craft equipped with engines that can operate using gasoline, diesel fuel or jet fuel, according to the plea agreement.

These vessels and multifuel engines are used by the US military and can be launched from a submarine or dropped by an aircraft. No comparable engine is manufactured in China.

When the US manufacturer suggested that Yang purchase cheaper gasoline-fuelled engines, she insisted on the military-model multifuel engines, prosecutors said.

Yang falsely told the manufacturer that her customer was based in Hong Kong rather than Shanghai, fearing the US company would be less likely to sell to a company in mainland China, officials said.

To facilitate the purchase, Ge Songtao arranged wire transfers to a separate company in Hong Kong, which wired more than US$110,000 to the US manufacturer. He also coordinated plans to send an employee to Hong Kong to receive the raiding craft and engines and then send the equipment to mainland China.

Yang and another co-conspirator, Zheng Yan, have previously pleaded guilty in the scheme. A trial for a remaining co-defendant, Fan Yang, is scheduled for next year.

Source: AP/dv

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