December 6, 2023

Russian defense procurement in crosshairs of DOJ and OFAC

On December 5, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanctions against nine entities and five individuals associated with Hans Maria De Geetere, a Belgian businessman who, along with the companies he controls, works as a procurement agent for Russia.  De Geetere’s network is spread through Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, the Netherlands and Hong Kong.  According to OFAC, it is responsible for procuring electronics with military applications for end users in Russia.

De Geetere and the companies linked to him are designated pursuant to 14024 for operating in the defense and defense materiel sector of the Russian Federation, and for being owned or controlled by De Geetere.  The designated companies include Knokke Heist Support Corporation Management, Eriner Limited; The Mother Ark Ltd, and; European Trading Technology B.V., based in Belgium, Cyprus and the Netherlands; a Hong Kong company working with Eriner to coordinate the shipment of electronics parts compatible with the unmanned aerial vehicles used by Russia against Ukraine, and; companies that have be employed in attempts to obtain equipment illegally in the United States.  De Geetere’s brother Tom is also designated, as are two Russian nationals working with Geetere, and a Dutch citizen who has served on the board of directors of some of Geetere’s companies, and has handled the financial affairs of Eriner.

As a result of these sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving a designated person.  In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

Concurrent with these sanctions, the US Department of Justice unsealed indictments against Hans De Geetere in US District Courts for Oregon and the Eastern District of Texas.  The Oregon indictment alleges that De Geteere, through his company Knokke Heist Support Corporation Management, obtained electronic accelerometers in the United States, falsely claiming that the accelerometers would be used in Belgium, when in fact the accelerometers were destined for China and Hong Kong end-users for whom a license would have been required.  The Texas indictment named Eddy Johan Coopmans in addition to Geetere.  The co-defendants are accused of conspiracy to smuggle field programmable gate array circuits and short wave infrared surveillance cameras out of the United States, for use by Russia.  On December 5, 2023, authorities in Belgium and the Netherlands conducted raids and arrested six people in connection with these allegations.

Dept of the Treasury press releaseDOJ press releaseIndictment (OR) |

Indictment (EDTX) | Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office press release