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Man gets 3 1/2 years for illegal exporting

Hong Kong citizen shipped military technology to Iran

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / September 27, 2011

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A Hong Kong national, extradited from his country to face export charges in the United States, was sentenced yesterday to 3 1/2 years in federal prison for illegally exporting US military technology to Iran.

Hok Shek Chan, 57, grew tearful and pleaded for leniency just before US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock sentenced him for exporting munitions without the required license. Chan had pleaded guilty to the charges.

Chan’s sister came from Hong Kong, and a brother and friend arrived from Canada, to support Chan at yesterday’s hearing. Chan could have faced up to six years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

Woodlock said his sentence needed to send a message to deter similar crimes, saying they pose a threat to national security. Chan is being credited with more than two years already served in prison since his arrest.

“The United States has very, very strong views’’ on exporting technology that have been “crystallized in a series of export limitations,’’ the judge said.

Chan set up a scheme to export to Iran parts used in C-130 military flight simulators - regulated by the State Department. Customers included Iran’s air force.

For the last decade, Chan has tried to circumvent federal laws by having the goods first brought into Malaysia, and then shipped by a middleman to Iran, authorities have said.

Two other men from Malaysia, Wong Fook Loy and Ngo Tek Chai, have also been indicted but remain at large.

Assistant US Attorney Stephanie Siegmann said yesterday that Chan had been warned before he was violating US law when his company was fined in 1993 for violating Hong Kong customs laws involving US military goods.

He was also questioned in 2003 by US law enforcement agents about his business dealings.

International sanctions prevent the sale of technology to Iran.

Chan’s attorney, J.W. Codinha, said his client never realized the seriousness of US law and the fact that he could be sentenced to prison.

Chan apologized to the court yesterday, often pausing in a speech to Woodlock.

“I had no true sense of the seriousness of my crimes,’’ he said.

“I stand before you as a changed and shamed man,’’ he added.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.