New Zealand man indicted in aircraft parts case

Charges: Items were for client in China

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SEATTLE — A New Zealand man has been indicted on federal charges that he attempted to purchase aircraft parts in the U.S. that he planned to sell to a client in China.

Federal prosecutors say that William Ali’s plan violated the Arms Export Control Act. His case was unsealed Tuesday. He’s scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Seattle on the two-count indictment Friday.

A message sent to Ali’s lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Nancy Tenney, seeking comment was not immediately returned.

A Homeland Security agent began investigating Ali in 2015 when he contacted a U.S. company asking for aircraft parts called accelerometers. The agent said the models Ali sought were developed for low- or zero-gravity navigation systems used in spacecraft. Other models are used in aircraft.

Anyone selling these parts must have an export license. Ali did not have a license, prosecutors said.

Court records show that an undercover agent made contact with Ali and set up a sale.

In email exchanges with the agent, Ali said he knew there were controls on the sale of the items that he wished to buy and acquiring them would be difficult. Ali told the undercover agent that he didn’t think he could obtain a license to export the parts so he was trying to buy them through other sources.

Ali’s client was a Chinese company that wanted a “huge quantity” of the product “as they were manufacturing a variant of the MA60 aircraft” and wanted to use high-quality U.S. parts, according to the criminal complaint.

After considering various options for picking up the aircraft parts, Ali decided to fly to Seattle. He was arrested when he arrived April 11.