American-Israeli businessman illegally moved sensitive US tech to Russia


An Israeli-American businessman was arrested for his involvement in a scheme to illegally export sensitive US tech to Russia, before and during its war on Ukraine, the US Department of Justice said in a Thursday statement.

Ilya Kahn, 66, was arrested on Wednesday for his suspected role in a years-long plot to transfer thousands of semiconductors made in America to ELVEES, a sanctioned Russian business that the department said was tied to Russia’s military and the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Kahn is the owner of two US-based companies, Senesys Incorporated and Sensor Design Association, both operating in the field of “security software development.” A joint Departments of Justice and Commerce investigation found that, through these companies, the suspect exported thousands of microcontrollers, network interface controllers, and a radio-frequency transmitter to ELVEES, before and after it was sanctioned by the United States and listed in the Commerce Department’s Entity List in March 2022 for its alleged role in helping facilitate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to the allegation, Kahn moved such sensitive equipment without obtaining an appropriate permit through a third party in the form of a Hong Kong-based shipping company. After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Khan allegedly continued to supply ELVEES with semiconductors manufactured in Taiwan.

After a Taiwanese company refused to ship the semiconductors to Russia, Khan devised a plot to ship the tech to the US only to have it re-exported to Moscow, the complaint against the businessman charged. “Kahn also used Hong Kong and other locations around the world as transshipment points to evade US export laws and regulations and to conceal the Russian end users,” it added. 

A Russian flag is seen on the laptop screen in front of a computer screen on which cyber code is displayed, in this illustration picture taken March 2, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)

Kahn will be met with ‘full force’ of the US Justice Department

“Mr. Kahn stands accused of repeatedly exporting sensitive technology to Russia before, during, and after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” the US Department of Justice’s National Security Division Assistant Attorney-General Matthew G. Olsen was quoted as saying. “Violations of US sanctions and export control laws that aid Russia and other hostile powers endanger our nation’s security and will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.”

“This arrest reflects our continued aggressive enforcement of export control violations involving the Russian military and the FSB,” a Commerce Department official added.

Khan is officially alleged to have conspired to violate the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.