64 year old electrical engineer Yi-Chi Shih, faces up to 219 years in federal prison after being found guilty of conspiring to smuggle military-grade semiconductor chips to China.
According to IEEP(a Federal Law) certain unauthorized exports are illegal. Yi-Chi Shih has violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and 17 other counts including mail fraud and wire fraud.
Shih, alongside co-defendant Kiet Ahn Mai of Pasadena, was trying to gain access to a sensitive system belonging to an unnamed US firm which manufactured semiconductor chips and Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs).
Mai posed as a customer, which paved way for Shih to access the company’s custom processors.
Shih then transferred the chips to the Chinese firm (Chengdu GaStone Technology Company), which was into building MMIC manufacturing plant.
MMICs have a variety of applications which could be used in guidance systems, missiles, fighter jets and electronic warfare.
US prosecutors say the victim company’s designs have been used in both commercial and military applications.
Their customer include US Air Force, Navy, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Evidence showed Shih defrauded a “U.S. company out of its proprietary, export-controlled items, including its design services for MMICs,” according to the DOJ.
“The jury also found Shih guilty of mail fraud, wire fraud, subscribing to a false tax return, making false statements to a government agency, and conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information,”– he added.
Kiet Ahn Mai pleaded guilty in December to smuggling and faces up to ten years in prison.