CHICAGO — A Northbrook man pled guilty Tuesday to a federal criminal charge and admitted illegally exporting computer equipment from the United States to a nuclear research agency of the Pakistani government. Obaidullah Syed, 66, owned the Pakistan-based Business System International Pvt. LTD., and Chicago-based BSI USA, according to a news release.

Syed pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Chicago to conspiracy to export goods from the U.S. without a license from the Department of Commerce and to submit false export information. The conviction is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing in the case has been set for Feb. 23, 2022.

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Syed was arrested on the charges in September 2020. According to federal prosecutors, Syed’s companies provided high-performance computing platforms, servers, and software application solutions.

From 2006 to 2015, Syed admitted he and Business System International conspired with company employees in Pakistan to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by exporting computer equipment from the United States to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission without obtaining the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce, according to the news release.

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The PAEC is a Pakistani government agency responsible for, among other things, designing and testing explosives and nuclear weapons parts. It was designated by the U.S. government as an entity which may pose an unusual or extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States, according to the news release.

Syed further admitted that he and the other conspirators falsely represented to U.S.-based computer manufacturers that the illegal shipments were intended for Pakistan-based universities or Syed’s businesses, when, according to prosecutors, the conspirators knew that the true end user of each shipment was either the PAEC or a research institute that trained the agency’s engineers and scientists. In so doing, Syed and his company caused the U.S.-based computer manufacturers to submit to the U.S. government shipping documents that listed false end-users for the U.S.-origin goods, thereby undermining the U.S. government’s ability to stop the illegal shipments.

Business System International Pvt. Ltd. was charged in the conspiracy as a corporate defendant. The company has yet to respond to the charges, according to the news release.

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