CHICAGO - A suburban Chicago technology executive pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal criminal charge after admitting to illegally exporting computer equipment from the United States to a nuclear research agency of the Pakistani government.
Obaidullah Syed, 66, of Northbrook, Ill., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export goods from the U.S. without a license from the Department of Commerce and to submit false export information. The conviction is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
U.S. District Judge Mary M. Rowland set sentencing for Feb. 23, 2022.
Syed owned Pakistan-based BUSINESS SYSTEM INTERNATIONAL PVT. LTD., and Chicago-based BSI USA. The companies provided high-performance computing platforms, servers, and software application solutions.
Syed admitted in a plea agreement that from 2006 to 2015 he conspired with his company’s employees in Pakistan to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by exporting computer equipment from the U.S. to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission without obtaining the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The PAEC is a Pakistani government agency responsible for, among other things, designing and testing explosives and nuclear weapons parts. It was designated by the U.S. government as an entity which may pose an unusual or extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
Syed further admitted that he and the other conspirators falsely represented to U.S.-based computer manufacturers that the illegal shipments were intended for Pakistan-based universities or Syed’s businesses, when, in fact, the conspirators knew that the true end user of each shipment was either the PAEC or a research institute that trained the agency’s engineers and scientists. In so doing, Syed and his company caused the U.S.-based computer manufacturers to submit to the U.S. government shipping documents that listed false end-users for the U.S.-origin goods.
Business System International Pvt., Ltd., was charged in the conspiracy as a corporate defendant.