Guilty plea by Taiwanese buisnessman linked to selling weapons machinery to North Korea

A Taiwanese businessman pleaded guilty last week in Chicago to conspiracy to violate U.S. regulations regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Hsien Tai Tsai, who the government linked to supplying weapons manufacturing machinery to North Korea, admitted to engaging in illegal business transactions involving the export of U.S. goods and machines, the Justice Department said.

Tsai, 69, also known as “Alex Tsai,” was arrested in May 2013 in Tallinn, Estonia, and later was extradited to the United States, where he remains in federal custody.

According to court documents, he worked in the U.S. and Taiwan, among other countries, for various Taiwanese companies buying, selling and procuring machinery capable of fabricating metals and other materials with a high degree of precision.

He worked with his son, Yueh-Hsun Tsai, a legal permanent resident of the U.S. who faces similar charges.

Together they violated Executive Order 13382, a sanction that targets those in connection with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They attempted to buy machinery with weapons production capabilities from an Illinois company for a North Korean corporation targeted by a 2005 sanction.

Authorities said the son operated a U.S. business entity, which acted as a front, in suburban Chicago to ship machinery and goods to his father in Taiwan.

Tsai faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, under the terms of the plea, the government will recommend he serve 30 months if he continues to fully cooperate with the U.S. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5.