Lawrence and Olathe residents charged with conspiring to illegally ship aviation equipment to Russia
Two Kansans, including a Lawrence man, have been arrested and charged with what federal authorities allege was a yearslong scheme to illegally export aviation-related technology to Russia.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky, 59, of Lawrence, and Douglas Robertson, 55, of Olathe, were arrested on Thursday and charged with conspiracy, exporting controlled goods without a license, falsifying and failing to file electronic export information and smuggling goods contrary to U.S. law.
The federal indictment included with the release said Buyanovsky and Robertson owned and operated KanRus Trading Company, which supplied electronic aviation equipment to Russian companies and provided repair services for equipment used in Russian-manufactured aircraft. It alleges that since 2020, the two men conspired to evade U.S. export laws by concealing and misstating the value and final destinations of their exports and by shipping items through other countries.
For example, the indictment says that in November 2020, a Russian customer sent a computer component to the company that had a sticker with the acronym of Russia’s Federal Security Services on it. Robertson sent the Russian customer an email saying the component “has a ФСБ [i.e., FSB] sticker on it!!!” and the customer responded “Interesting about sticker, you can remove and after stick on back?” according to the indictment. Authorities allege that when the men shipped the component back, they concealed the true end user and destination by providing a fraudulent invoice to the shipment company identifying the end destination as Germany.
The indictment describes several other alleged shipments of equipment to Russia, and it says that on Feb. 28, 2022, U.S. authorities detained one of the shipments, and the U.S. Department of Commerce informed Buyanovsky and Robertson that a license was required to export this equipment to Russia. Authorities said that Robertson emailed a Russian customer in April 2022 and said that “things are complicated in the USA” and that “[t]his is NOT the right time for [more paperwork and visibility].” Then, authorities allege that in May, June and July 2022, the defendants illegally shipped equipment to Russia via Armenia and Cyprus without obtaining the required licenses.
If Buyanovsky and Robertson are convicted, they could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of exporting controlled goods without a license; up to 10 years in prison for each count of smuggling; and up to five years in prison for each count of conspiracy and falsifying export information, according to the news release. The release did not provide any information about future hearings or trial dates in the case.
The release said the investigation was coordinated through a U.S. Department of Justice task force called KleptoCapture that focuses on enforcing the sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States and its allies have imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.