Man Guilty in Scheme to Ship Military Boats to China

(Associated Press) A Chinese man has been convicted in Florida in a scheme to buy and ship inflatable military boats from the United States to China.

Ge Songtao, 50, pleaded guilty Monday in Jacksonville federal court to conspiring to submit false export information to fraudulently export maritime raiding craft and engines to China and to attempting to fraudulently export that equipment, according to court records.

He faces up to 15 years in prison. No sentencing date was immediately announced.

Ge Songtao was the chairman of a Chinese company called Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd. when one of his U.S.-based employees, Yang Yang, attempted to order seven combat rubber raiding craft equipped with engines that can operate using gasoline, diesel fuel or jet fuel, according to the plea agreement.

These vessels and multifuel engines are used by the U.S. military and can be launched from a submarine or dropped by an aircraft. No comparable engine is manufactured in China.

When the U.S. manufacturer suggested that Yang purchase cheaper gasoline-fueled engines, she insisted on the military-model multifuel engines, prosecutors said. Yang falsely told the manufacturer that her customer was based in Hong Kong rather than Shanghai, fearing the U.S. company would be less likely to sell to a company in mainland China, officials said.

To facilitate the purchase, Ge Songtao arranged wire transfers to a separate company in Hong Kong, which wired more than $110,000 to the U.S. manufacturer. He also coordinated plans to send an employee to Hong Kong to receive the raiding craft and engines and then send the equipment to mainland China.

Yang and another co-conspirator, Zheng Yan, have previously pleaded guilty in the scheme. A trial for a remaining co-defendant, Fan Yang, is scheduled for next year.