North Korean accused of laundering $ 2.5 billion for nuclear program

Washington—The Justice Department said in the indictment announced on Thursday that North Korean and Chinese citizens are implementing a multi-billion dollar money laundering plan to fund North Korea ’s nuclear weapons program. The case emphasized the Trump administration's inability to diplomatically stop Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

The department accused 28 North Koreans and 5 Chinese citizens of using the network of more than 250 shell companies to launder more than $ 2.5 billion in assets through international banks, according to court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney ’s Office in Washington in February.

The government claimed that the money went back to North Korea ’s main state-owned foreign exchange bank, the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People ’s Republic of Korea. Korea. North Korea used the funds to support its weapons of mass destruction program.

"Through this prosecution, the United States has expressed its determination to prevent North Korea from illegally entering the U.S. financial system and restrict its ability to use illegal income. The U.S. attorney in Washington, Michael Sherwin, said in a statement.

These accusations are also an implied recognition that the United States has been unable to prevent North Korea from building North Korea. By imposing economic sanctions or through President Donald Trump ’s attempt to reach an agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to manufacture nuclear weapons.

After the recent talks between Trump and Kim Jong Il failed last year, North Korea accused the United States of maintaining a hostile stance and hinted that it would resume missile or nuclear weapon tests this year.

Trump said this year that he did not want to meet with President Kim in November Before the election, the Trump administration has been reluctant to provide any reminders of its attempts to contain Pyongyang ’s failure.

But North Korea ’s ambitions have not weakened. Last month, the US government accused North Korea of ​​using cyber attacks to steal and launder money and use digital currencies. ” Make money for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs ".

North Korea has not conducted any major tests this year. But Kim met with his country ’s highest military management agency this week to discuss a“ new policy ”to“ further improve ”North Korea ’s nuclear capabilities

Kim has not appeared in the last three weeks, causing outsiders to speculate that he is ill.

The West imposed strict economic sanctions on North Korea with a view to reducing the funding of its nuclear weapons program; the United States also pursued some companies that it was Send money illegally to North Korea.

In the indictment, the Ministry of Justice unveiled Thursday, identifying the defendant as an employee and four senior executives of the Foreign Trade Bank, including two former governors Ke Qiaowen and Jin Songyi. The other accomplice was identified as A member of North Korea ’s major intelligence agency. They are accused of conspiracy, bank fraud, money laundering, and operating a criminal enterprise.

Although the United States has little chance of arresting the accused, the Ministry of Justice sometimes files lawsuits against foreigners to stop the adversarial government

] The defendant was accused of illegal money laundering and returned to the Foreign Trade Bank, which can be traced back to 2013, when the bank was listed on the US Treasury Department ’s sanctions list for helping to fund North Korea ’s weapons program. The North Korean financial system is designated as a money laundering risk.

Some of the bank ’s employees are North Koreans and Chinese citizens who worked for the front office company that covered up the bank ’s secret branch in Shenyang, China. Said. Federal prosecutors accused Mingzheng International in 2017 The company is the front line of the North Korean Bank.

Other defendants were accused of emigrating overseas to establish hundreds of shell companies in China, Austria, Libya, Kuwait., Thailand, and Russia. According to court documents, when the government or bank found contact with North Korea At that time, they closed the company and established more contacts.

These companies remitted the U.S. dollar to North Korea The company purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of goods

. The suspects allegedly conducted transactions through banks in China, the United States, and Europe, and erroneously denied any illegal purchase or contact with North Korea when the bank marked some of these transactions. The government has recovered $ 63.5 million in assets frozen by banks in the past five years.

Since Trump threatened "fire and anger that has never been seen in the world," North Korea has found new ways to use cybercrime to weaken certain effects of US sanctions. A recent study found that this was directed against "the country targeted in 2017."

Although no digital currency was mentioned in the indictment, it said that some of the defendants had been sent abroad “to study fast-growing financial technologies.” National security analysts said that the West had succumbed to North Korea through international pressure. Awareness of capabilities may soon become outdated.

Trump said he would use his close relationship with Kim Jong Il to prevent North Korea from manufacturing more weapons. The two held a meeting in Singapore in June 2018 and Vietnam in Hanoi, Vietnam in February 2019. But these meetings failed to reach any agreement on how to end North Korea ’s nuclear weapons program or how to reduce sanctions on the Fed. Countries imposed it.

The United States and North Korea agreed that the negotiations failed, and the meeting in Hanoi suddenly ended without a solution. But they disagreed why they did not reach an agreement.

"Sometimes, you have to go," Trump said in Hanoi after the talks broke down. He said that Kim Jong-il ’s proposal to dismantle nuclear facilities in exchange for sanctions and sanctions “disrupted the transaction”.

This spring, Trump expressed his desire to improve relations between the two countries in a letter to Kim Jong Un, emphasizing this unusually friendly relationship.

Kim has supervised four underground nuclear tests and pushed North Korea to build more nuclear weapons and missile programs. Under his rule, the country also conducted flight tests on three intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2017, and recently tested two short-range ballistic missiles.

The indictment was filed by Timothy Shea, who led the U.S. Attorney ’s Office in Washington until his last resignation. The Anti-Drug Administration was implemented for a week. This is one of the last large indictments that the office obtained before the Coronavirus Pandemic closed the courts and stopped most jury proceedings.

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