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U.S. indicts 33 N. Korean and Chinese nationals for money laundering

U.S. indicts 33 N. Korean and Chinese nationals for money laundering

Posted May. 30, 2020 08:24,   

Updated May. 30, 2020 08:24


The U.S. has indicted 28 North Koreans and five Chinese nationals including former presidents of the North’s state-owned Foreign Trade Bank on charges of money laundering worth 2.5 billion U.S. dollars. The Washington Post reported that it is the largest case out of all the North Korean sanction violation cases Washington has indicted ever.

The U.S. Justice Department disclosed on Friday a 50-page indictment, which suggests that the 33 people attempted to launder money amounting to 2.5 billion dollars and also engaged in illegal transactions after establishing more than 250 paper companies and FTB branches in Beijing and Shenyang in China, Vladivostok in Russia, Libya, Thailand, Austria and Kuwait.

Key suspects include two former FTB presidents and two former FTB vice presidents, and Han Ki Song from the North’s intelligence bureau who reportedly operated a secretive FTB branch in Thailand. They face 14 accounts of charges, including violations of the act on sanctions against North Korea, the act on sanctions against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international money laundering, and the banking act.

Experts say FTB, which is responsible for the North’s foreign exchange transactions, effectively serves as the funding source for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile development programs.

It is also unusual that the Justice Department has indicted not only North Koreans but also Chinese nationals. Pundits say that the indictment of Chinese nationals clearly demonstrate contentious relations between Washington and Beijing, which are in fierce confrontation due to China’s enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law.

Yong Park parky@donga.com