U.S. charges North Koreans for $ 2.5B sanctions sabotage plan

U.S. charges North Koreans for $ 2.5B sanctions sabotage plan

The Ministry of Justice accused North Korean and Chinese citizen networks of providing illegal payments of at least US $ 2.5 billion through hundreds of front-end companies to secretly advance North Korea ’s nuclear weapons program.

The indictment was unveiled in the Washington Federal Court on Thursday and is believed to be the largest criminal lawsuit against North Korea in history.

The 33 defendants included executives from North Korea ’s state-owned Foreign Trade Bank, which was included in the US Treasury Department ’s sanctioned institutions list in 2013 to facilitate nuclear proliferation network transactions and sever ties with the US financial system.

According to the indictment, bank officials (one of whom worked in the North Korean Junior Intelligence Agency) have set up branches in countries around the world, including Thailand, Russia and Kuwait, and have used more than 250 frontline companies to deal with Nuclear proliferation program.

The defendants used various tactics to cover their footprints, including coding conversations; listing false destinations and customers on contracts and invoices; the indictment said that after the bank seized contact with North Korea, a new front office company was established . Prosecutors say that banks are often tricked into dealing with transactions they would not normally complete.

Five of the defendants were Chinese citizens operating secret branches in China or Libya. Other people accused include individuals who were former presidents or deputy governors of the bank.

“Through the indictment, the United States has expressed its commitment to stop North Korea ’s ability to illegally enter the U.S. financial system, and (restrict) its use of proceeds from illegal operations to enhance its capacity for illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” U.S. agent Columbia Michael Sherwin, a lawyer in the SAR, said in a statement.

The indictment states that since 2015, the United States has frozen and seized about $ 63 million from the plan.

The case was raised during the delicate relationship between the United States and North Korea. The friendly relationship President Donald Trump tried to plan over the past two years has stalled, and the last face-to-face meeting between high-level officials of the two countries was held in Stockholm in October.

In addition to the recent public speculation about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health that triggered Trump’s public concern, the Obama administration has remained almost completely silent on North Korea. American officials said they are still eager to restart negotiations, but have not received any indication that North Korea is about to resume any negotiations.

The indictment also reflects continued concern about sanctions violations related to North Korea. For example, last month, United Nations experts recommended that 14 vessels that violate sanctions on North Korea be blacklisted, and in the report accused the country of increasing illegal coal exports and petroleum product imports, and continued to conduct financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges. Cyber ​​attacks to obtain illegal benefits. income.

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