By: Brooke Driver
A 67-year-old Taiwanese man, Alex Tsai was arrested in Tallinn Estonia on May 1, 2013, for allegedly supplying weapons machinery to North Korea. His son, Gary Tsai, also connected to the illegal operation, was arrested the same day in his home in Glenview, Illinois.
Both men were charged in Chicago with identical accusations: one count of conspiring to defraud the United States in its enforcement of laws and regulations prohibiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, one count of conspiracy 2 to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by conspiring to evade the restrictions imposed on Alex Tsai and two of his companies by the U.S. Treasury Department, and one count of money laundering. The father and son—as well as an unnamed “Individual A”—have been under investigation for some time for exporting goods and materials that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction. The three men, now Denied Persons, are associated with at least three Taiwan-based companies and one US-based company suspected of criminal activity: Global Interface Company, Inc., Trans Merits Co., Ltd., Trans Multi Mechanics Co., Ltd and Factory Direct Machine Tools, all of which have also been added to the Debarred List. Specifically, Alex and Gary Tsai was debarred for dealing (since the late 1990’s) with the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, which was designated as a proliferator by President Bush in 2005. The Tsais has been transporting items to KOMID since the late 1990’s that could be used to support North Korea’s advanced weapons program.
The defendants may receive up to the maximum penalty of:
- 20 years in prison and $1,000,000 fine for violating IEEPA
- 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for money laundering
- 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to defraud the US