By Chris King •
Updated: 28 Jul 2023 • 19:54
Image of semiconductors.
Credit: Lejla peace/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
FOUR individuals have been charged with allegedly selling high-tech industrial secrets to Russia and China by the French judicial authorities.
This was reported by Le Parisien on Thursday, July 27, citing a judicial source of AFP that said the four had originally been charged on March 24, suspected of organised smuggling, fraud, and abuse of company assets.
Four people, including two French people, are believed to have been involved as part of an investigation into suspected deliveries of industrial secrets to China and Russia, as reported by midilibre.fr.
Two French and two Chinese citizens including two leaders of OMMIC SAS, a high-tech French semiconductor flagship for the telecommunications industry and the space sector. It is located in Limeil-Brévannes, near Paris, and employs around 100 staff. It was recently taken over by MACOM Technology Solutions Inc of Lowell, MA, USA.
According to the news outlet, Ommic had been gradually taken over by Ruoadan Z, a 63-year-old Chinese national. He became its president in 2018 after purchasing 94 per cent of the shares via an investment fund created in France.
Marc R, the company’s general manager, as well as a Chinese executive of the company, were indicted for delivering documents or files to a foreign power that were likely to harm the fundamental interests of the nation.
This is a crime punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of €225,000. Initially placed in pre-trial detention, Marc R was released under judicial supervision by the Paris Court of Appeal.
The prosecutors suspected Marc R of having ‘implemented numerous circumvention schemes to knowingly deliver powerful chips and information on sensitive technologies to China and Russia’. In particular, this included the control of gallium nitride, a material that enables the boosting of semi-conductor capabilities
Upon arrival, the chips and processes ended up in the hands of a Russian state-owned company that produces components for the military.
‘We transmitted information that we should not have transmitted’, Marc R said in a judicial listening transcribed by Le Parisien, while questioning the idea of destroying data concerning these Sino sales.
While in custody at the DGSI, Marc R admitted some of the facts, while minimising his involvement. Describing Ommic as his ‘baby’, the French boss said the admittedly illegal Russian exports were ‘vital’ to the company’s economic survival.
The company’s accounts are said to have been weighed down by the commercial practices of its Chairman, Ruoadan Z, who favoured China in the sale of legal semiconductors at knock-down prices.
Marc R disputed any personal enrichment, even after admitting that the Russians offered him ‘women and cash. Our products are used for electronic pointing antennas. They are used in aircraft in general or on boats. That’s what the Russian company told me’, he swore during his hearing.
A customs check at the beginning of 2021 aroused suspicions that eventually gave rise to the opening of a preliminary investigation by the National Anti-Terrorist Parquel (Pnat) in November 2022.
It was entrusted to the DGSI (intelligence Interior) and the Central Office for the Suppression of Serious Financial Crime (OCRGDF).
On the day of the check, customs officers intercepted a shipment of 844 electronic chips manufactured by the French company, destined for China.
After examination, they discovered that the products had been tampered with before packaging in order to hide their real power. Traces of spikes were observed on the circuits and the technical sheets had been filled in with false figures.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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