The FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating a New Hampshire company for allegedly supplying lab equipment to Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast.
Warrants unsealed in federal court allege that officials at Intertech Corporation, a firm founded by Matthew Grodowski in 1990, “intentionally falsified shipping documents, avoided and circumvented export compliance regulations, and obfuscated end-users” as they sent scientific instruments to recipients in Russia. Moscow’s domestic intelligence and security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), was reportedly among the recipients of Intertech’s shipments, according to a search warrant application.
The firm is linked to a Russian company, Intertech Instruments, sanctioned by the Biden administration for its alleged role in allegedly supplying Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
Prosecutors have not charged Intertech Corporation, Intertech Instruments, or company employees and officials with a crime. But in a search warrant application, federal agents claim that Intertech used a front company to disguise shipments to its Moscow-based subsidiary, Intertech Instruments. (Intertech did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast. Federal prosecutors in New Hampshire declined to comment, citing a policy not to comment on investigations.)
It’s unclear what specific goods federal agents believe Intertech shipped to Russia but previous export restrictions placed on an alleged Russian subsidiary point to concerns over diversion to the Russian government’s chemical and biological weapons programs.
In March 2021, the Commerce Department added Intertech Instruments to the Bureau of Industry and Security’s entity list, which restricts exports from companies at risk of supplying nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, alongside nine Russian, three German, and one Swiss firm, because of their “proliferation activities in support of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs.” The department also included the 27th Scientific Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense, which the U.S. has alleged is “involved with Russian chemical weapons research and testing activities,” in its enforcement action.
The move came two days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Treasury Department announced sanctions on “senior Russian government officials and a Russian state research institute for their involvement in the poisoning of [Alexei] Navalny,” a Russian dissident and anti-corruption activist currently imprisoned in Russia for what are widely criticized as politically motivated charges.
Navalny, a long time anti-corruption activist and critic of Vladimir Putin’s government, fell gravely ill after he was poisoned with Novichok, a top secret nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union and used in assassination attempts against enemies of the Kremlin.
Russian business registration records reviewed by The Daily Beast show the Moscow-based Intertech Instruments added to the Commerce Department’s entity list shares the same website and employee email addresses as the New Hampshire-based Intertech Corporation accused of violating export laws in a search warrant application.
Intertech allegedly enjoyed a long and prosperous business relationship with Russia’s FSB. One of Intertech’s Moscow employees, Tatiana Kimstach, had even “worked in an FSB lab many years ago, maintains some of those connections, and works closely with the FSB for her current sales,” according to court documents.
Federal agents claim that Intertech officials allegedly failed to accurately identify the FSB as the ultimate end user in five shipments sent between March 2015 and September 2016. Among the alleged recipients of the company’s shipments was the FSB’s Criminalistics Institute, which provides the FSB criminal investigative arm with forensic and scientific support.
But the open source research outlet Bellingcat has also identified Criminalistics Institute as the cover for an altogether more sinister activity: poisoning Kremlin enemies with chemical weapons. A December 2020 Bellingcat investigation labeled the Institute as the “center of operations for the current FSB poisoning program” which has targeted dissidents like Navalny and state enemies like Sergei Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer recruited by British intelligence and poisoned by Russian operatives in 2018. Bellingcat reporters used mobile device location data to trace a dozen operatives working as part of the “clandestine sub-unit of the FSB Criminalistics Institute” to the poisoning of Navalny.
In September 2018, FBI and Commerce Department officials sent Intertech a letter informing the company that it would need a license to ship laboratory equipment to Intertech Instruments in Moscow because of the risk that scientific equipment sent there could be diverted “to chemical or biological end uses.”
After the 2018 letter, federal agents allege that Intertech “changed its business practices to circumvent and evade” the new licensing and export requirements. Transcripts of phone conversations and emails between Intertech employees detailed in court documents appear to show the company setting up a separate company, Laboratory Systems & Technology, as a cutout for continued shipments to Intertech Instruments “for the purposes of circumventing the licensing requirements,” according to federal law enforcement.
The search warrants were originally filed in January 2020. The Department of Justice requested, and received two extensions to keep the court records sealed, which expired on Tuesday.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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