Monday, May 16, 2016

B.C. millionaire pleads guilty to hacking U.S. military for China

A multimillionaire Chinese citizen residing in Vancouver has admitted that greed led him to team up with hackers in his homeland in a conspiracy to steal blueprints for Pentagon military jet components.

Su Bin, a 50-year-old aviation entrepreneur, pleaded guilty in a California court this month to U.S. spying charges.
Charges were first announced in 2014, but Su had been living in his adopted home of Canada fighting extradition. A month ago, he suddenly dropped his appeal, consented to cross the border, hired five lawyers and negotiated a maximum five-year prison sentence with U.S. prosecutors.

Canadian immigration authorities dropped a bid they had launched to declare Su a Chinese spy and strip him of his Canadian residency status. It is unclear if he can return to Canada to reside at the conclusion of his U.S. prison term.
In August, 2012, Su bought a $2-million house in Vancouver. A few months earlier, he was profiled in The Wall Street Journal as a Beijing businessman who had made $13-million in China but was keen to leave the country.

According to the plea deal, Su admitted he was part of a criminal hacking conspiracy that dates back to 2008 and continued to 2014. He admits to helping hackers identify people, databases and documents they could hit within U.S. defense contracting companies.
The conspirators wanted schematics related to transport and fighter jets known to the Pentagon as C-17s, F-22s and F-35s

Despite Su’s admitted crimes, the heavy lifting in the conspiracy was done by two China-based hackers who have never been charged and whose names have never been revealed by prosecutors. Earlier this year court filings in Canada describe the tandem as “Chinese military officers” who sent Su pictures of themselves in military dress, with identifiable names and ranks. Yet no publicly available U.S. charging document makes this same allegation. The plea agreement refers to them only as “citizens of China and located in China.”