Northbrook tech executive admits illegally exporting computer equipment to Pakistan

Updated 10/26/2021 5:39 PM

A Northbrook man accused of illegally exporting computer equipment to a Pakistani government nuclear research agency pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday.

Obaidullah Syed, 66, had been charged with conspiracy to export goods from the United States without a license from the Department of Commerce and with conspiracy to submit false information, according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois.


The conviction carries a maximum five-year sentence in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland set sentencing for Feb. 23.

Syed owned Business System International Pvt. Ltd., based in Pakistan, and BSI USA of Chicago, which produced computing platforms, servers and computer software. Business System International was charged with conspiracy as a corporate defendant, according to the news release.

In a plea agreement, Syed admitted that, from 2006 to 2015, he worked with his company's employees in Pakistan to export computer equipment to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission without U.S. Department of Commerce authority, a violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, court records show.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, in part, designs and tests explosives and nuclear weapons parts and has been designated a threat by the U.S. government.

Syed also admitted that he and co-conspirators told U.S. computer manufacturers that the shipments were intended to Pakistan universities or Syed's businesses. This caused the U.S. companies to generate shipping documents listing false recipients and impaired the government's ability to stop the illegal shipments, the U.S. attorney's office said.

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