Richmond man accused of being international arms dealer ordered released on $1-million bail

A judge has ordered the release on $1 million bail of a Richmond man who is accused of being an illegal international arms dealer and is being sought for extradition to the United States.

In May, a court in New York state issued a warrant for the arrest of Aydan Sin, 45, to stand trial on criminal charges under six provisions relating to an alleged conspiracy to export arms illegally from the United States to customers in Dubai and Colombia.

Sin and two men from Montreal, who are also charged with money-laundering, are alleged to have negotiated with an undercover agent of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the sale of 40 Glock semi-automatic pistols and 15 Mini Uzi submachine guns with silencers.

The allegation is that the firearms, which were to have their serial numbers removed, were to be obtained in the U.S. and exported overseas, with the cost being US$96,000 for the weapons and another US$26,000 spent on circumventing requirements for an arms export licence.

U.S. authorities claim that before Sin and his two co-accused aborted the transaction, Sin had wired a US$70,000 payment.

On June 20, the B.C. Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for Sin, who was taken into custody the following day. Paperwork officially seeking his extradition is expected to be filed in the court within two months. The two Montreal men have also been arrested.

At a bail hearing last week, the Attorney-General of Canada acting on behalf of the U.S. sought the continued detention of Sin, who was born in Hong Kong and came to Canada at the age of 13 before becoming a Canadian citizen, on the primary ground that he is a flight risk.

A lawyer for the Attorney-General argued that if convicted of the offences in the U.S., Sin faces a maximum sentence of 85 years in prison and would therefore be motivated to flee upon his release.

But Sin retained a lawyer in New York who offered the opinion that a more realistic sentencing range for him was five to eight years in prison, even taking into account the fact that from 2007 to 2011 Sin was in prison in Washington state after being convicted of distribution of ecstasy.

In a ruling released Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice George Macintosh said that an assessment of the strength of the case against Sin was relevant in assessing his flight risk. “In my view the strength of the case is a neutral factor in assessment of flight,” said the judge. “I say that given that the strength of the case does not appear to be exceptionally strong or exceptionally weak.”

The judge said that considering the evidence as a whole, Sin’s flight risk can be properly managed given his ties to Canada and with appropriate conditions of bail, including the surrender of his Canadian and Hong Kong passports, reporting daily to a bail supervisor and a “substantial” surety. 

On the ground of whether Sin’s release would bring the system of justice into disrepute, the judge noted that illegal arms deals are a “heinous” activity intended to propagate killing for profit.

He said the only thing saving Sin were the considerations that he was entitled to protections under the Charter including the presumption of innocence, the right to liberty in our society and the right to be tried within a reasonable time.

The judge said that “with some reluctance” he was not prepared to conclude Sin was required to remain in custody in order to uphold the administration of justice. In addition to the $1 million bail, Sin will be under house arrest at his Richmond residence.

Outside court, Sin’s lawyer Rishi Gill said: “My client is very pleased he has been granted bail and is looking forward to contesting the matter before the courts. Both in Canada and the United States.”

Sin, who was unsuccessful in obtaining a publication ban on his identity, is scheduled to be back in court Aug. 16. Sin attended high school in Vancouver and graduated from the University of B.C. with a degree in electrical engineering.

He worked as an electrical engineer before being convicted on the drug charges in the U.S. Since then he has been self-employed, earning a modest income obtaining building maintenance contracts for property management companies as well as deriving income from two rental properties.