WASHINGTON (AP) — A businessman pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy for illegally exporting sensitive military components to India.
Appearing before a federal judge in Washington, Parthasarathy Sudarshan admitted to a scheme to conceal the true destination for electronic parts used in missile guidance systems and jet fighters, and night vision filters used in combat aircraft.
Sudarshan came to the United States and opened an office in Simpsonville, S.C.
He was accused by the government of conspiring to violate U.S. export restrictions by directing at least seven American firms he did business with to send deliveries to Singapore or to the office in South Carolina, where Sudarshan then re-exported the items to India.
According to papers filed in the case, Sudarshan coordinated with and took direction from a co-conspirator who was identified only as an Indian government official in Washington, D.C. The court papers identify five other co-conspirators, all employed by Sudarshan's business.
Officials at the Indian Embassy in Washington had no immediate comment.
Sudarshan's company, Cirrus, made 16 shipments in 3½ years of microprocessors, memory chips and other items that ended up in units at the Indian government's defense ministry or space center, the court papers stated.
Some of the exported items were built specifically for military use and required licenses from the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.
Sudarshan did not get the licenses, nor did he get licenses for other electronic components from the Commerce Department, which restricts the export to certain countries involved in developing nuclear weapons or ballistic missile delivery systems.
The equipment went to three Indian government agencies: the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, which researches spacecraft and ballistic missiles; Bharat Dynamics Ltd., a key agency in the nation's guided missile program; and the Aeronautical Development Establishment, which is developing the Tejas combat jet.
Sudarshan, 47, faces a maximum five-year prison term for conspiring to violate two federal laws including the Arms Export Control Act.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina scheduled sentencing for June 16.
The United States imposed sanctions in 1998 after India conducted tests of its nuclear weapons, with the Commerce Department placing a number of enterprises in India on a list that included some of Sudarshan's principal customers.
According to evidence presented by Justice Department prosecutors in court Thursday, Sudarshan told one prospective customer that the sanctions were no obstacle for one of his enterprises. ''Orders, like, flew ... it was flowing like water,'' he was quoted saying. The court papers identified the enterprise as Bharat Electronics Ltd.