Exporter banned then jailed in the U.S.

When you are banned from shipping overseas by the U.S. Government, you should certainly listen to them.

A Taiwan Businessman has recently been jailed in a federal prison for two years for conspiring with his son to export goods overseas, despite the U.S. Government banning him from exporting. Ever wondered how does one be banned from exporting?  The 70-year-old Taiwanese man was previously involved in a North Korean weapons procurement channel.  Yep, that’ll do it.

Hsien Tai “Alex” Tsai, 70, apologised for his actions in court all the while dressed in an orange jumpsuit. Via a Chinese interpreter, Tsai said “To help my son, I violated U.S. laws, I feel very sorry, and I apologize for that.”.  Tsai pleaded guilty to the charge.  Despite his lawyer requesting as little as probation for Tsai, the U.S. District Judge, Charles Norgle, said that the prison sentence was necessary to reflect the seriousness of the crime and deter others from doing the same.

Alex Tsai in happier times – possibly enjoying a round of golf.  Something that he may never be able to do again.

Tsai and his company, Trans Merits Co, were sanctioned in 2009 by the U.S. Treasury Department after it was revealed that he had been supplying “goods with weapons productions capabilities” to North Korea since the late 1990’s.  All this came approx one year after Tsai was convicted in Taiwan of illegally forging documents and shipping restricted materials to North Korea.  All this according to Federal charges. (My, he has been busy!)

Prosecutors advised that Alex Tsai’s son, Gary Tsai, assisted is father in evading the ban by conducting business under other company names. The charges allege he formed a machine tool company in September 2009 in Glenview that imported and exported machine tools and parts. His father and Trans Merits were partners in that company in violation of the ban, prosecutors alleged.

There was one instance where both father and son purchased a “Bryant center hole grinder” from a suburban Chicago company.  They then exported it to Taiwan, using a false name. Authorities said the machine grinds center holes with “precisely smooth sides through the length of a material.”

Alex Tsai was arrested whilst holidaying in Estonia, it was here that he spent four months in jail. He was later extradited to Chicago where he has since been held.  Once his sentence is complete, it is likely that he will then be extradited back to Taiwan.

Gary Tsai pleaded guilty in December to one count of preparing a false invoice to hide his father’s involvement in the shipment of the center hole grinder. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.