iStock gavel and the flagA father and son are facing federal charges in connection with an alleged scheme to unlawfully export U.S. goods and machinery that could be used to create weapons of mass destruction.

According to a May 6 press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Hsien Tai Tsai, a resident of Taiwan who also goes by the name Alex Tsai, and his son Yueh-Hsun Tsai, a Glenview, Illinois resident also known as Gary Tsai, have each been charged with 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 to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and one count of money laundering.

Authorities believe that Alex Tsai, 67, Gary Tsai, 36, and a third unnamed individual are associated with three companies in Taiwan, Global Interface Company, Inc., Trans Merits Co., Ltd., and Trans Multi Mechanics Co., Ltd., and are believed to be part of a network that bought and exported United States machinery “used to fabricate metals and other materials with a high degree of precision.”

Back in 2009, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated Alex Tsai, Global Interface Company and Trans Merits to be proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, which prevents any U.S. companies and individuals from doing business with them. Even so, authorities allege that, Alex, Gary and the third individual continued to do business together, concealing Alex Tsai and Trans Merits’ involvement in the transaction by using other company names including Trans Multi Mechanics. The defendants are accused of then using Trans Multi Mechanics to purchase and export machinery on behalf of Trans Merits and Alex Tsai.

If convicted, Alex and Gary Tsai, and their alleged accomplice, face serious prison time and penalties. According to the press release, the defendants could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Money laundering carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, while the maximum sentence for conspiracy to defraud the United States is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

By: Amy Yarborough, Trade Reporter