The U.S. has accused two foreign companies of laundering money for the North Korean regime, according to a report from the Department of Justice.
The U.S. filed complaints against China-based Dandong Chengtai Trading Co. Ltd. and Singapore-based Velmur Management Pte Ltd. for acting as financial facilitators for North Korea. Representing the largest seizure of North Korean funds by the Department of Justice, the U.S. is demanding $11 million from the two companies.
One of the complaints alleges that “Dandong Chengtai and associated front companies controlled by Chi Yupeng, a Chinese national, comprise one of the largest financial facilitators for North Korea,” the report explained. The Chinese company conspired to evade sanctions and conduct U.S. dollar transactions for the North Korean Workers’ Party, a sanctioned entity. Velmur allegedly laundered money on behalf of sanctioned North Korean banks that sought to procure petroleum.
The lawsuits follow a complaint against Mingzheng International Trading Limited, a company running out of Shenyang, China, for $1.9 million in June. Mingzheng was also accused of laundering money for the regime.
“These complaints show our determination to stop North Korean sanctioned banks and their foreign financial facilitators from aiding North Korea in illegally accessing the United States financial system to obtain goods and services in the global market place,” U.S. attorney Channing D. Phillips, “According to the complaints, these front companies are supporting sanctioned North Korean entities, including North Korean military and North Korean weapons programs.”
“Working with our law enforcement partners, we will vigorously enforce vital sanctions laws,” he added.
Earlier Tuesday, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned a collection of Chinese and Russian entities helping North Korea obtain funds and supplies for the development of nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them to distant targets.
During the Obama administration, Congress was forced to pass legislation to ensure that the president took action against foreign companies and individuals aiding the North Korean regime, but action was limited. While the Trump administration is still shaping its North Korea policy, it has demonstrated a greater willingness to punish foreign entities aiding Pyongyang.
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