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Greek Businessman Charged by US for Conspiring to Support Russia

weapon crates
A Greek businessman has been accused of smuggling sensitive technologies to the Russian military. Credit: Israel Defense Forces / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

A Greek businessman, arrested on May 9 in Paris, is currently facing extradition to the US for allegedly conspiring to aid Russian military development by smuggling sensitive technologies.

The businessman, who has been identified as Dr. Nikolaos ‘Nikos’ Bogonikolos, is the head of Aratos Group, a collective of defense and technology companies based in the Netherlands and Greece.

Aratos was previously a finalist in the NATO Innovation Challenge for space applications in 2021. However, Bogonikolos now stands accused of smuggling US-origin military equipment and dual-use technologies to Russia in violation of sanctions and export controls.

Greek businessman accused of smuggling technology to Russia

Bogonikolos has been in detention since May 9, when he was arrested in Paris. On May 16, a federal court in Brooklyn unsealed a criminal complaint charging him with wire fraud conspiracy.

The Greek businessman, who stands accused of circumventing US export controls and sanctions to supply Russia with sensitive technologies, is now awaiting extradition to the US.

“As alleged, while ostensibly operating as a defense contractor for NATO and other ally countries, the defendant and his Aratos Group were double dealing, helping to fuel Russia’s war effort and their development of next generation weapons,” commented US Attorney Brenon Peace.

“Our Office continues to work tirelessly to ensure that disruptive technologies do not fall into the wrong hands,” Preace continued.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Micahel J. Driscoll explained the allegations in more detail, stating: “As alleged, Bogonikolos conspired with a network of companies orchestrated by the Russian intelligence services to fraudulently acquire and then smuggle U.S.-origin military and dual-use technologies to aid the Russian defense and security sectors.”

“Bogonikolos procured sensitive equipment meeting NATO specifications designed for tactical battlefield conditions as well as components with applications in space-based and cryptographic communications, on behalf of his Russian intelligence handlers seeking to improve their country’s warfighting capabilities.”

“This case highlights the FBI’s commitment to keeping critical technologies away from America’s adversaries, and dismantling the criminal networks complicit in Russia’s war of aggression,” Driscoll added.

Double dealing

Based on the information provided on Aratos’ website, the company specializes in various fields such as space technologies, homeland security, blockchain, and drone response systems.

One of Aratos’ affiliated companies, Aratos Systems BV, was nominated as a finalist in the NATO Innovation Challenge for Space Applications in 2021. Their proposal involved leveraging artificial intelligence and blockchain technology for satellites and spacecraft.

Bogonikolos, who headed Aratos, was described as having expertise in advising the European Parliament and governments globally. Aratos also supplied defense equipment and related technologies to nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

However, the Greek businessman was allegedly busy smuggling US-origin technologies to Russia since at least 2017.

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