3D printer firm to pay US$27mil for export violations

The Department of Commerce building is seen in Washington. 3D Systems emailed design documents, blueprints and technical specifications to Quickparts.com Inc, its then-subsidiary’s office in China for price quotes, the department said. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: 3D Systems Corp has agreed to pay up to US$27mil (RM212mil) to settle with the United States for illegally exporting to China controlled design drawings for military electronics and spacecraft, among other violations.

Rock Hill, South Carolina-based 3D Systems, which provides 3D printing and other services to customers in the United States and abroad, emailed design documents, blueprints and technical specifications to Quickparts.com Inc, its then-subsidiary’s office in China for price quotes, the US Commerce Department said.

The emails included design drawings for aerospace technology that required US export licences. It also illegally sent documents to Germany, where it had a server for employee emails, without the required licences.

“Sending export-controlled blueprints for aerospace and military electronics to China is detrimental to US national security,” Export Enforcement Assistant Secretary Matthew Axelrod said.

Besides the Commerce Department, the company also settled with the US Department of Justice and the US Department of State.

The Justice Department settlement involves 3D’s improperly transmitting technical data to China in connection with National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Department of Defense contracts, the US attorney for the Northern District of Texas said in a statement.

Its settlement calls for US$2.27mil (RM10.2mil) payable within 30 days, and another US$2.27mil it fails to pay at least that amount to the other agencies.

The State Department settlement imposes a civil penalty of US$20mil (RM89.7mil), with half suspended so long as the money is used to strengthen the company’s compliance programme.

The Commerce Department penalty is for US$2.8mil (RM12.6mil).

In addition to the aerospace documents, the Commerce Department said, 3D Systems exported metal alloy powder to China without a licence, although it is restricted for national security and nuclear nonproliferation reasons.

“The company is pleased to have reached a settlement with the agencies and remains committed to continuing to enhance its export control programme,” 3D Systems said in a statement.

Last year, the US Department of Commerce took action against three companies at the same Wilmington, North Carolina, address, for similar violations – sending technical drawings and blueprints of satellite, rocket and defence technology to China. — Reuters

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