Chinese Exec Pleads Guilty to Exporting Navy SEAL Boat Technology
Chinese national Ge Songtao, the head of a Shanghai-based technology company, has pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to smuggle American maritime raiding craft and engine technology out of the country and transport it to China.
According to prosecutors, Ge Songtao conspired with U.S. Navy officer Lt. Fan Yang to buy eight military-rated Evinrude MFE multi-fuel outboard engines and seven inflatable raiding boats on behalf of his company, Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd. The arrangement allegedly used a false company name and shipping address in Hong Kong rather than mainland China to place the order with the U.S. manufacturer of the goods, and the wire transfer for payment was allegedly made from Hong Kong in order to conceal the true origin of the funds.
Lt. Fan Yang also allegedly purchased a handgun for Ge Songtao's use during Ge's business trips to the United States. It is unlawful for foreign nationals to possess firearms during short visits to the U.S. unless they have residency status.
After securing a guilty plea and a cooperation agreement from Ge Songtao's assistant, Chinese national Zheng Yan, prosecutors have been negotiating with Ge Songtao on the terms of a plea bargain. On Monday, Ge pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States by submitting false and misleading export information. He also pleaded guilty to one charge of smuggling goods from the United States in connection with the attempted exports.
The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment and fines of up to $500,000. In addition, Ge has agreed to forfeit about $115,000 in U.S. currency that was seized by the FBI during its investigation.
Two further charges related to the case were dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
In addition to Ge and Zheng, Lt. Fan Yang's wife Yang Yang has pleaded guilty to charges of involvement in the conspiracy. Lt. Yang has pleaded not guilty, and his jury trial is scheduled to begin in March 2021.
The Evinrude MFE is a 55 / 30 horsepower submersible outboard intended for use with a small inflatable dinghy, like the small portable craft used by special forces teams for amphibious operations. It can run on a wide range of fuel, including gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene and (in an emergency) diesel. For covert operations, it can be left submerged and hidden for extended periods, then quickly dried out and restarted.