The Canadian government has gone to the Federal Court in an attempt to protect “sensitive” information about the raid of a Quebec company that was searched by the RCMP as part of an investigation into the alleged diversion of technology with military uses to China.
RCMP officers searched JYS Technologies in Brossard, Que., in 2018. They were acting at the request of the FBI, which was looking for evidence of money-laundering, fraud and the procurement and export of U.S. technology and defense information.
Two years later, the federal government is now trying to stop the release of details of that search.
In court documents obtained by Global News, the Department of Justice argued that disclosing parts of the case would harm Canada’s international relations, national defence, or national security.
A lawyer representing the company and its key director, Ishiang Shih, declined to comment on the Federal Court proceedings.
The RCMP said it had “received a request for assistance from the FBI in this investigation, therefore we are not in a position to comment on this specific matter.”
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Formed in 2007, JYS Technologies specializes in electronics research and development and has worked with the Canadian government. But the company appears repeatedly in U.S. court documents outlining an alleged conspiracy to export circuits with missile guidance applications to China.
Shih, a former McGill University electrical engineering professor, has been named as a defendant in the U.S. case, and his brother was convicted in California on 18 charges last year, although two conspiracy counts have since been overturned on appeal.
He has denied the allegations and after RCMP officers searched his office and seized e-mails, photos and other materials, he challenged the police raid in Quebec court, calling it a “fishing expedition.”
The Quebec Superior Court ruled against Shih in December, rejecting his claim the RCMP warrant was too broad. The court has not yet ruled on whether the material seized during the search can be sent to the FBI.
He faces no charges in Canada but Global News has learned that Shih and JYS Technologies worked with three Canadian government agencies, including the military.
“The individual in question collaborated on DND files between 1995 and 1998,” the Department of National Defence said in a statement.
A spokesperson said the work was “academic in nature,” was done “off-site” and did not require access to the military’s “internal systems.”
“We have no reason at this time to believe there was ever any impact on our programs.”
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JYS Technologies is also named as a partner in a National Research Council project.
“We can confirm that the NRC and JYS Technologies signed a confidentiality agreement in 2015, which is commonplace for the NRC’s clients and covers broad discussions between the NRC and its clients as to the purpose and scope of potential research and testing to be undertaken on a given project,” the agency said.
“The NRC is not able to share details of the agreement.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian Space Agency said that between 1998 and 2004 it had awarded four contracts to CIS Scientific, a firm that Shih helped found and that he identified in a Quebec court document as a “sister company.”
“Information about these contracts is not available as documents were destroyed in accordance with the government of Canada conservation and disposal calendar, which requires contract documents to be kept for 6 years,” CSA spokesman Audrey Barbier said.
An email filed as evidence in the U.S., and that appears to have been sent by Shih, discussed “attempted collaborations” with the Department of National Defence, National Research Council and Canadian Space Agency.