By Helen Beckner and Peter Maroulis
April 6, 2023
A business registered in southern California is part of an international network that supplied electronic components to Russian defense industries, a Kharon investigation has found. The company, GA Universal, sold products to two Russian companies named in a 2022 U.S. criminal indictment related to the smuggling of UAV parts and export control violations.
Maintaining an address in the Los Angeles area, GA Universal “specializes in delivery of components to electronics manufacturers,” according to its website.
GA Universal delivered approximately 150 shipments of integrated circuits, radio communication equipment, and other electronic components to two Russian companies - SMT iLogic OOO and Device Consulting OOO - between January 2020 and February 2022, according to shipping data. Russia appears to have been the sole destination for all of these deliveries.
SMT iLogic and Device Consulting have imported Western-manufactured components likely for Special Technology Center LLC, the manufacturer of the Orlan-10 reconnaissance UAV used by Russian forces in Ukraine, according to a December 2022 Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) study. U.S.-Russia dual citizen Igor Kazhdan – the subject of the 2022 U.S. indictment – used other U.S.-based companies to ship UAV components to SMT iLogic and Device Consulting in violation of U.S. export controls, according to the U.S. government.
GA Universal’s exports to Russia continued after the invasion of Ukraine. In June 2022, GA Universal shipped U.S.-origin protective cases for electronic equipment to a Russian company named Flagman OOO, a vendor to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, according to shipping data.
GA Universal has been registered in California for almost 20 years, with its only listed address a rented mailbox in a shipping store just a few blocks from Los Angeles International Airport. As recently as August 2022, the sole proprietor of GA Universal submitted a filing to Los Angeles County to renew the registration of the business’s name.
Russian Semiconductor Manufacturer Linked to Affiliates Around the World
GA Universal’s website was formerly registered by DMS Electronic Components Inc,. a manufacturer of semiconductor components organized in Delaware in 2003 by scientists from the former Soviet Union, according to website records and corporate information.
DMS’s website lists affiliates located in Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other jurisdictions.
A Taiwan-based DMS affiliate, Pai Haung Technology Co., Ltd., has exported materials for electronics manufacturing to a Russian company affiliated with the U.S.-sanctioned Kremny Public Joint Stock Company in August and October 2022, according to shipping data. Kremny is a defense industry enterprise that produces electronic components as part of Russia’s import substitution program, according to the U.S. Department of State.
A Russia-based DMS affiliate, Tandem Elektronika OOO, is an official dealer of products manufactured by Belarusian firm Integral JSC, according to Tandem Elektronika’s website. The Belarusian company was sanctioned by the U.S., U.K., and Canada in 2022 for supplying semiconductors to the Belarusian and Russian armed forces. Tandem Elektronika has also sold diodes – a two-terminal electronic component – to a sanctioned Russian defense company that is a subsidiary of the state-owned conglomerate Rostec.
The owners of Tandem Elektronika are former directors of a defunct U.S.-based DMS affiliate, DMS US Electronic Components. A similarly named Russia-based affiliate, DMS RU Electronic Components, Ltd., shares a telephone number with Tandem Elektronika, and they occupy adjacent addresses in the city of Voronezh.