WILMINGTON — The federal government suspended export privileges for three Wilmington-based companies on Wednesday for allegedly sending unauthorized documents to China.
Metalworking companies Quicksilver Manufacturing, Rapid Cut, and U.S. Prototype are accused of illegally exporting sensitive technical drawings and blueprints used to 3-D print satellite, rocket and defense-related prototypes to China, according to a press release from the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security.
Their “temporary denial order” triggering the suspension also prohibits receipt of exports. It will last 180 days while an investigation is underway.
“Outsourcing 3-D printing of space and defense prototypes to China harms U.S. national security,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod, who issued the order, said in the release. “By sending their customers’ technical drawings and blueprints to China, these companies may have saved a few bucks — but they did so at the collective expense of protecting U.S. military technology.”
All three companies run by Peter Lamporte occupy the same address and deal in metal fabrication and supply.
According to the TDO, the companies received drawings for 3-D-print requested items from domestic customers “collectively utilizing the same rental mailbox.” Then, they exported those drawings to manufacturers in China. The companies failed to gain required federal authorizations to export the documents, including sensitive prototype space and defense technologies.
TDOs are some of the most significant civil sanctions the bureau can take, according to the release.
The Washington Post reported this is the first time the Commerce Department has issued a TDO against U.S. companies for sending technical drawings to China. Not only do they limit U.S. companies from sending or receiving exports, but they can also bar foreign countries from exporting and receiving U.S. items.
They have recently been used against Russian airlines to retaliate against the country’s war on Ukraine.
The bureau encourages the companies’ customers to review their records “to determine whether intellectual-property or export-controlled technology was provided and/or potentially compromised.”
If the companies are found guilty, they will be in violation of the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
Criminal penalties dictate that if a person knowingly violates the act, they could be fined $500,000 or five times the value of the export, whichever is greater. They could also face jail time of up to five years, in addition to or separate from fines.
If a person willfully violates the act, they could be fined $100,000 or five times the value of the export, whichever is greater, not to exceed $250,000. Jail time would be up to 10 years, in addition to or separate from fines.
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