Navy officer guilty of hiding ties to Chinese businessman

A U.S. Navy aviation officer in Florida has been convicted of buying weapons for a Chinese businessman who was later convicted of export crimes

Lieutenant Fan Yang, 36, also lied about his relationship with the businessman on security forms, authorities said.

Yang was found guilty in Jacksonville’s federal court on Friday of conspiring to violate U.S. firearms laws, making false written statements to federally licensed firearms dealers during the purchase of two firearms and making false written statements as part of a security clearance background investigation, according to the investigation. .

The Chinese-born U.S. citizen risks up to 30 years in prison by a sentencing scheduled for March 16.

In 2016, while Yang was stationed in Jacksonville, Yang recommended that Ge Songtao hire Yang’s wife, Yang Yang, from Ge Songtao’s China-based company, Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd. This company purchased maritime equipment in the United States that was designed for law enforcement and military missions and exported it to China.

Yang Yang received more than $ 300,000 in payments from Shanghai Breeze, its creditors and Ge Songtao’s executive assistant and co-defendant, Zheng Yan, prosecutors said. The money was used to pay Yang Yang’s salary, Shanghai Breeze’s expenses in the United States and for goods that Ge Songtao ordered Yangs to buy. The funds were often sent through Yangs’ family business, BQ Tree LLC.

In 2017 and again in 2018, Fan Yang bought two handguns for Ge Songtao, who later refunded the naval officer. In both cases, investigators said Fan Yang conducted a record of firearms transactions in which he misrepresented that he had purchased the firearm for himself instead of Ge Songtao.

Although Ge Songtao employed Yang’s wife, had been in Yang’s home and had paid for Yang to travel and visit him, prosecutors said Fan Yang consistently hid their relationship with the Navy.

While assigned as an instructor in 2019 at the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Weapons School in Jacksonville, Yang completed and signed a background questionnaire as part of the renewal of his top-secret security clearance. This questionnaire required the disclosure of any close or continuous contact with foreign nationals. Investigators said Yang failed to disclose the extent of his contacts with Ge Songtao and hid that he had a bank account in China and possessed an expired Chinese passport.

Ge Songtao pleaded guilty last year to several charges related to attempts to buy and ship inflatable military boats from the United States to China. He was sentenced in July to three years and six months in U.S. federal prison. Zheng Yan and Yang Yang also pleaded guilty to charges related to the scheme and were sentenced to prison terms.

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