US accuses Shenyang-based Mingzheng for being front to launder US$1.9m North Korean cash

World | 16 Jun 2017 5:15 pm

U.S. authorities have accused Mingzheng International Trading Ltd, a Chinese company based in Shenyang of helping North Korea evade financial sanctions and asked a court to seize US$1.9 million they said was improperly moved through American financial institutions.

The US Justice Department said Mingzheng is a front company created to launder United States dollars on behalf of sanctioned North Korean entities.

According to the Justice Deaprtment complaint filed on June 14, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Mingzheng conspired to evade U.S. economic sanctions by facilitating prohibited U.S. dollar transactions through the United States on behalf of the Foreign Trade Bank, a sanctioned entity in North Korea and to launder the proceeds of that conduct through U.S. financial institutions.

The forfeiture action was announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Michael DeLeon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office.

The action represents one of the largest seizures of North Korean funds by the Department of Justice.

"This complaint alleges that parties in China established and used a front company to surreptitiously move North Korean money through the United States and violated the sanctions imposed by our government on North Korea,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. "Sanctions laws are critical to our national security and foreign policy interests, and this case demonstrates that we will seek significant remedies for those companies that violate them.”

"The FBI has dedicated substantial resources to investigate complex illegal monetary transactions involving foreign adversaries. This specific case has significant national security implications,” said Special Agent in Charge DeLeon. "The men and women of the FBI's Phoenix Field Division worked diligently to identify the illegal transactions. We hope this sends a strong message to those who use US banking systems for illegal activities.”

The US government is seeking to forfeit US$1.9 million that was transacted in October and November of 2015 by Mingzheng, via wire transfers, using their Chinese bank accounts. These U.S. dollar payments, which cleared through the United States, are alleged to violate U.S. law, because Mingzheng was surreptitiously making them on behalf of the Foreign Trade Bank, whose designation precluded such U.S. dollar transactions.-The Standard/AP

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