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Software company fined for trading with the enemy

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A Colorado software vendor has been fined of $14,500 on a charge of trading with the enemy for selling oil- and gas-exploration software to a company drilling in Cuba, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced.

In addition, Jay Leonard, president of Platte River Associates, will serve 12 months of supervised probation for unauthorized access of a protected computer in an unrelated case, the DOJ said.

The company pleaded guilty to the trading-with-the-enemy charge and Leonard pleaded guilty to the hacking charge last October. The company was sentenced for the trading-with-the-enemy charge Sept. 9.

The company's lawyer was not immediately available for comment on the two cases.

Federal agents warned Platte River Associates (PRA) in 1998 that dealing directly or indirectly with embargoed countries, including Cuba, is illegal, the DOJ said.

Then in August 2000, Spanish oil company Repsol purchased PRA software. In October 2000, a Repsol employee traveled to PRA's Boulder, Colo., office for software training. The Repsol employee told the PRA geologist that the data being used for training was for a Cuban project, the DOJ said.

Leonard also learned that the data being used involved Cuban waters, but PRA did not stop the training, the DOJ said. As the Repsol employee was leaving the U.S., Customs officials seized his laptop computer. An analysis of the laptop revealed materials related to a potential Cuban project, the DOJ said.

The DOJ accused PRA of providing specialized technical computer software and computer training, which was then used to create a model for the potential exploration and development of oil and gas within the territorial waters of Cuba, without first having obtained a license from the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

"Trading with the enemy is a serious crime, and in this case, a Colorado company has been rightfully held accountable for committing that crime," U.S. Attorney David Gaouette, of the District of Colorado, said in a statement.

In the hacking case, the DOJ accused Leonard of illegally accessing the Web site of Zetaware, an oil- and gas-exploration software company and a competitor of PRA. During the intrusion, in October 2005, Zetaware's password-protected files were downloaded via a wireless computer network at the Houston airport, the DOJ said.

An FBI Analysis found that Leonard used PRA assets and resources to access Zetaware's password-protected Web site without authorization, in an attempt to obtain confidential information, the DOJ said.

Last November, Leonard led a PRA staff meeting about a plan to exploit the downloaded Zetaware files, the DOJ said.
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Home>World news>Software company fined for trading with the enemy
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