A Chinese national was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for conspiring to export military rafts and engines to China

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday (July 16) that Ge Songtao, a Chinese citizen, was sentenced Wednesday to three years and six months in federal prison for conspiring to submit false export information through the Federal Automated Export System and fraudulently exporting a marine assault boat and engine to China, and for attempting to fraudulently export the equipment in violation of U.S. law. In addition, the court ordered Ge Songtao to forfeit $114,834.27, the amount he wired to a U.S. company to purchase the assault boats and engines.

Ge Songtao, 51, who was born in Nanjing, China, pleaded guilty in November 2020. He is chairman of Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd. based in Shanghai, China, according to court documents. The U.S. Department of Justice said Ge Songtao intended to seek suppliers from 2018 to purchase U.S.-made combat-style kayak assault boats with engines that could also run on gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. These boats are used by the U.S. military and can be launched from submerged submarines or airlifted to the surface by aircraft. China does not produce similar engines, the Justice Department said.

Yang Yang, a U.S. employee of Songtao Ge and a co-defendant in the case, tried to order seven rafts equipped with the engines from a U.S. manufacturer, the Justice Department said. When the U.S. manufacturer suggested that Yang Yang buy a less expensive gasoline engine, she insisted on a military-style multi-fuel engine. In order to get the other party to sell the product, Yang Yang falsely claimed that the purchaser was a Hong Kong company, not Shanghai Light Wind Technology. A Chinese colleague of Yang Yang’s told her that the U.S. manufacturer would be more willing to sell the equipment if the buyer was a Hong Kong entity rather than a mainland Chinese entity, the DOJ said. As a result of Yang Yang’s misrepresentation, false information was entered into the U.S. Commerce Department’s automated export system, in violation of federal law.

To facilitate the punchbowl deal, Ge Songtao arranged to wire money to another Hong Kong company, which wired $114,834.27 to that U.S. manufacturer, the Justice Department said. He also coordinated a plan to send an employee to Hong Kong to receive the assault boats and engines and transfer them to mainland China. The Justice Department said authorities arrested Ge Songtao and his co-defendants before the assault boat and engine were shipped overseas.

Yang Yang was charged with the same two counts as Ge Songtao and pleaded guilty in September of last year, according to the Justice Department. She was sentenced last December to credit for the time she had already spent in custody, or about 14 months in prison.

On Aug. 13 of last year, co-defendant Zheng Yan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to submit false export information and fraudulently exporting assault boats and engines in violation of U.S. law, and was sentenced in March of this year to approximately six months in prison with credit for time already spent in custody, plus 11 months of home confinement.

The trial of co-defendant Fan Yang is scheduled to begin on Aug. 2, the Justice Department said.

Yang Fan, 36, was born in China, immigrated to the United States in 1999, joined the U.S. citizenship in 2006 and was working as a U.S. Navy captain at the Naval Patrol Reconnaissance Weapons School at Naval Air Station Jacksonville at the time of his arrest in 2019, according to previous media reports. Yang Yang is the wife of Yang Fan. Songtao Ge is a Chinese citizen on a temporary visa, and Yan Zheng is his lover. All four of them were arrested in October 2019.