Two Kansas Men Illegally Sold Aviation Equipment to Russia, U.S. Says

Two Kansas men were arrested Thursday on federal charges that they broke U.S. export laws by selling aviation-related technology to Russia, the Department of Justice said.

The men, Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky, 59, of Lawrence, Kan., and Douglas Edward Robertson, 55, of Olathe, Kan., owned and operated KanRus Trading Company, which supplied electronics installed in aircrafts to Russian companies and provided repair services for equipment used in Russian-manufactured aircrafts.

The scheme, which also included repairing equipment, was already illegal when it started in 2020, the Department of Justice said in a statement. But it was uncovered as the United States has cracked down on illegal exports to Russia since it invaded Ukraine a year ago.

After the invasion in February 2022, the men continued exporting Wester avionics, or the electronics that include communications, navigation, flight control and threat detection systems, without seeking or obtaining a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Mr. Buyanovsky, the president and owner of the company, and Mr. Robertson, a commercial pilot who helped operate the company, each face 13 criminal counts, including conspiracy, exporting controlled goods without a license, falsifying and failing to file electronic export information, and smuggling goods contrary to U.S. law.

Maximum penalties for each count range from five to 20 years in prison. It was unclear if the men had legal representation.

In one incident from November 2020 detailed in the indictment, Mr. Buyanovsky listed the value of a computer component at $100 on an invoice, when the true value of the transaction was $10,950.

In January 2021, Mr. Robertson quoted a client $28,769 for repairs on a piece of equipment, but the shipping label and invoice undervalued the repaired equipment at $2,275.

Mr. Robertson told a client in 2022 that an invoice needed to state a transaction as less than $50,000 to avoid “more paperwork and visibility.”

“This is NOT the right time for either,” Mr. Robertson said in an email, according to the indictment.

Mr. Buyanovsky and Mr. Robertson arranged for goods to be shipped to “transshipment points” in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus and Armenia to conceal Russia as their final destination, the indictment said.

The United States has imposed a wide range of sanctions against Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, including cutting off Russia’s largest banks, placing trade restrictions and reducing technology sales. The Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force, which led the investigation into KanRus, has pushed for enforcing sanctions and export controls placed on Russia.

“The task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression,” the Justice Department said.

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