A professor from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was convicted of conspiring to illegally export semiconductor chips with missile guidance applications to China, a statement from Department of Justice said.

Yi-Chi Shih, 64, an electrical engineer and adjunct professor at UCLA, has been found guilty of multiple federal crimes, including engaging in a scheme to illegally obtain integrated circuits with military applications that later were exported to China without the required export license, a Los Angeles jury announced after a six-week trial.

Accordingly, Shih violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), a federal law that makes illegal, among other things, certain unauthorized exports. 

The jury also found Shih guilty of mail fraud, wire fraud, subscribing to a false tax return, making false statements to a government agency and conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.

The evidence at trial showed Shih and co-defendant Kiet Ahn Mai, 65, worked together to defraud an American company that manufactured wide-band, high-power semiconductor chips known as monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs).

As part of the scheme, Shih accessed the victim company’s computer systems via its web portal after Mai obtained that access by posing as a domestic customer seeking to obtain custom-designed MMICs that would be used solely in the United States. Shih and Mai concealed Shih’s true intent to transfer the U.S. company’s products to China.

The MMICs that Shih sent to China required a license from the Commerce Department before being exported to China, and a license was never sought or obtained for this export.

The chips were shipped to Chengdu GaStone Technology Company (CGTC), a Chinese company where Shih was president. He paid for the scheme through a bank account based in the United States, which was funded through another company based in China.

Shih was convicted on June 26 on 18 counts in a federal grand jury indictment.

A district judge will schedule a sentencing hearing, where Shih may face a statutory maximum sentence of 219 years in federal prison.

China has been facing some thorny issues in its trade negotiations with the United States. President Donald Trump’s administration has been pushing Beijing to make structure changes to its economic policies, including theft of intellectual property, forced transfer of technology, cyberhacking and industrial espionage.

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