Four Chinese nationals have been indicted for financial dealings with North Korean companies sanctioned for involvement in the production of weapons of mass destruction, the US Department of Justice said on Tuesday.
Ma Xiaohong (馬曉紅), the head of Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co, and three top executives of the Chinese company were indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey, the department said in a statement.
The other three executives indicted were identified as general manager Zhou Jianshu (周建舒), deputy general manager Hong Jinhua (洪錦花) and financial manager Luo Chuanxu (洛傳旭).
“Through the use of more than 20 front companies, the defendants are alleged to have sought to obscure illicit financial dealings on behalf of sanctioned North Korean entities that were involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” US Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers said.
“Ma, her company and her employees tried to defraud the United States by evading sanctions restrictions and doing business with proliferators of weapons of mass destruction,” US Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito said.
A department spokesman said that the four executives were not in US custody and were believed to reside in China.
The indictment said that the company was based in Dandong in Liaoning Province along the border with North Korea and its primary business was import and export trade with North Korea.
The firm allegedly set up front companies to work with North Korea-based Korea Kwangson Banking Corp, which has ties to two other sanctioned North Korean entities — Tanchon Commercial Bank and Korea Hyoksin Trading Corp.
Tanchon and Hyoksin are subject to US sanctions because of their links with Korea Mining Development Trading Co, which the US considers North Korea’s premier arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.
Ma, Zhou, Hong and Luo face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a US$1 million fine for breaching the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
They face a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to breach the act and a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 30 agreed to a resumption of their dialogue at an impromptu meeting in the Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea.
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