U.S. suspends Belgian firm’s export rights over alleged China violations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday it had suspended the export privileges of a Belgian company and its owner for 180 days for attempting to send sensitive technology to China in violation of U.S. regulations.

Hans De Geetere and Belgium-based Hasa-Invest bought or attempted to purchase accelerometers, which measures things like machine vibration and seismic activity, from a U.S. firm on behalf of clients in China, including an aerospace contractor, the department wrote in an export ban order.

De Geetere and Hasa-Invest falsely told the U.S. firm, which the department did not name but said has distributors in China and Germany, that the accelerometers were bound for clients in Europe, the order said.

At least some of the accelerometer orders were placed on behalf of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, a contractor for Beijing’s space program that is on Washington’s export control list, the order said.

“The use of accelerometers by the aerospace and defense industries, and Respondents’ false statements made to U.S. companies to obtain the items, raises significant concerns of future violations,” the order said.

De Geetere and Hasa-Invest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In one of De Geetere’s attempts, around April 2021, Hasa-Invest told the U.S. firm it was buying the accelerometers for a Belgian government agency, the order said.

Another attempt that June involved two shipments from the U.S. firm to a newly incorporated company in the United Arab Emirates that does not possess equipment requiring accelerometers, the order added.

The order said the department issued the U.S. firm a letter informing it that a special license is required to export accelerometers to China.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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