US judicial authorities have arrested the Chinese national Fuyi “Frank” Sun for trying to steal carbon fiber, used for military and aerospace applications, defense analyst Wendell Minnick writes in Defense News. Sun was caught by an undercover unit of Home Land Security (HSI).
Sun allegedly instructed HSI undercover agents to use the term “banana” to refer to carbon fiber in their communications. On April 11, Sun traveled from China to New York to purchase the carbon fiber and told HSI agents that the fiber was for the Chinese military. Sun also told agents that he had worked in the Chinese missile program as an employee of the China National Space Administration in Shanghai and had a close relationship with the military, according to the charge sheet.
“Sun paid the undercover agents $23,000 in cash for the carbon fiber. He also paid an additional $2,000 to undercover agents as compensation for the risk he believed they were taking to illegally export the carbon fiber to China without a license,” the government document says.
The HSI undercover operation included the creation of a front company with an online “showroom” of various products for sale. The “UC company” was not identified, but government documents indicate the front is in New York City.
Sun allegedly suggested several third countries to make the transaction, including Australia, Belgium and South Korea. Sun described a prior transaction in which he had acquired carbon fiber from a Korean supplier and in order to defeat Korean export controls, Sun and the Korean company had arranged to intentionally mislabel the carbon fiber as “acrylic fiber,” which was difficult to visually distinguish from carbon fiber. Sun instructed the undercover agents to “destroy the barcodes on every bundle … they won’t be able to trace where the merchandise … is really coming from,” the documents say.
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