Former US military pilot admits he acts as paid agent for China and lies on national security background forms | OPA
Former US military pilot admits he acts as paid agent for China and lies on national security background forms |  OPA

Former US military pilot admits he acts as paid agent for China and lies on national security background forms | OPA

A former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who has become a civilian contractor pleaded guilty in a federal court today, admitting that he acted as an unregistered agent for China and accepted thousands of dollars from representatives of the Chinese government to provide aviation-related information from his defense. contractor employers. He also pleaded guilty to making related false statements during background checks on national security.

Shapour Moinian, 67, of San Diego, served in the Army in the United States, Germany, and South Korea from about 1977 to 2000. After his service, Moinian worked for various cleared defense contractors in the United States – including in San Diego – as well as the Department of Defense. “Cleared” is a term that indicates that a contractor is authorized to work on projects that involve classified information.

While Moinian worked for an approved defense contractor, or CDC, on various aviation projects used by the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence, he was contacted by a person in China who claimed to work for a technical recruitment, according to his plea agreement. Company. This person offered Moinian the opportunity to consult the aviation industry in China.

“Moinian was a paid agent for the Chinese government who sold US aviation-related technology,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Department. “The Department of Justice has no tolerance for those who help foreign governments break the law to undermine American competitiveness and innovation.”

“This defendant took his American employers’ aviation materials and sold them to China,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman of the Southern District of California. “This behavior was an outrageous breach of trust from a former member of the U.S. military. The United States will aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who works under the direction of foreign governments to steal U.S. technology and intellectual property.”

“The People’s Republic of China remains determined to acquire our information and technology. In this case, we witnessed a former U.S. government official acting as an agent of the Chinese government and Chinese intelligence officers’ extensive use of social media to identify willing targets,” he said. Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Department. . “

‘The defendant admitted to being an unregistered agent of a foreign power, having lain on his background check paper to obtain his security clearance, knowingly providing proprietary information to persons controlled by the Chinese government and willingly receiving payments from them. “This is another example of how the Chinese government is improving its defense capabilities through the illegal use of US technology,” said Special Agent Stacey Moy of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office. “When someone has a security clearance, they know what information to report to the security authorities. In this case, the defendant betrayed his holy oath, knew his actions were wrong and subsequently lied about it. The FBI and our partners in the counterintelligence task force will “I would like to specifically thank the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) for their continued partnership in this matter.”

“Mr. Moinian sold information to the Chinese government and repeatedly lied to cover up his crimes,” said responsible special agent Michelle Kramer of the NCIS Office of Special Projects. “Now he is being held accountable for his actions. NCIS and our partners remain unwavering in our commitment to protecting the U.S. military and eradicating crime that threatens the superiority of the American warrior. “

In March 2017, Moinian traveled to Hong Kong, where he met with this alleged recruiter and agreed to provide information and materials related to several types of aircraft designed and / or manufactured in the United States in exchange for money. Moinian accepted about $ 7,000- $ 10,000 in US currency during that meeting. According to his grievance agreement, Moinian knew at this meeting and at all subsequent meetings that these persons were employed by or headed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

When he returned to the United States, Moinian began collecting aviation-related material, which included transferring material from a CDC to a thumb drive. In September 2017, the defendant traveled abroad and met during a stopover at Shanghai airport with Chinese government officials and provided aviation-related material on a finger drive, including proprietary information from a CDC. Moinian then arranged for payment for this information through her stepdaughter’s South Korean bank account. Moinian told his stepdaughter that these funds were payment for his consulting work abroad and instructed her to transfer the funds to him in several transactions.

Moinian also received a cell phone and other equipment from these individuals to communicate with them and assist in the electronic transfer of materials and information.

In late March 2018, Moinian traveled to Bali and met with the same people again. Later that year, he began working at another CDC. During this time frame, the same people in China transferred thousands of dollars to the South Korean bank account of Moinian’s stepdaughter, who subsequently transferred the funds to Moinian in several transactions.

In August 2019, Moinian traveled again to Hong Kong and met with the same people, where he was again paid approximately $ 22,000 in cash for his services. Moinian and his wife smuggled that money back to the United States.

Under his appeals agreement, Moinian also admitted that he lied on his government background questionnaires in July 2017 and March 2020, when he erroneously stated that he had no close or lasting contact with foreign nationals and that no foreigner had offered him a job.

At sentencing, Moinian risks a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000 for acting as an agent of a foreign government, and up to five years and a fine of $ 250,000 for the false statements. The verdict is scheduled for August 29.

This case was investigated by the FBI and NCIS and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California and the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

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