MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A third man has pleaded guilty to his role in a plot to illegally export materials used in space and weapons technology to China, Hong Kong and Singapore, the U.S. attorney's office announced Monday.
Jian Wei Ding, 50, of Singapore, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to one count of conspiracy to violate export regulations. His co-defendants -- Ping Cheng, 46, of Manhasset, N.Y., and Kok Tong Lim, 36, of Singapore -- also pleaded guilty in recent weeks to one count of conspiracy.
According to their plea agreements, the three men admitted that from March 23, 2007, through April 6, 2008, they conspired to violate export regulations by exporting and attempting to export high-modulus carbon-fiber material without a license.
The material is used in rockets, satellites, spacecraft and uranium enrichment. For national security reasons, a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce is required to export it.
According to the plea agreements, Ding controlled several import and export companies, including one that acquired high-technology items for its customers. One of those customers is the China Academy of Space Technology, which builds satellites for the Chinese government.
The plea agreements said Ding's role was to manage the companies, maintain a relationship with the Chinese users of the material, and provide money to buy the material. Cheng acted as the U.S. agent for Ding's companies, and Lim's role was to reach out to U.S. suppliers.
The defendants worked with an undercover Minnesota company that purported to be a supplier of aerospace commodities.
The men each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum $1 million fine. A sentencing date has not been set.