The U.S. Justice Department released a statement Tuesday, April 29th, that Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee, has been charged with money laundering, wire fraud and other crimes in an indictment issued in New York City.
Li was indicted on related charges in 2009 in Manhattan and the State Department is currently offering a $5 million bounty for information leading to his capture. He is currently living as a fugitive in China.
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Fangwei supplied Iran variety of parts for ballistic missiles
The indictments allege Li, the owner of several Chinese firms that have a good deal of business with Iran, has supplied the terrorist nation with a variety of parts for ballistic missiles.
Prosecutors present a case alleging that Li thwarted sanctions on Iraq by creating a number of false front companies that did $8.5 million of business with Iran in 165 separate transactions. The indictment alleges that Li went into hiding following the sanctions, continuing to deal with Iran through his front companies as well as using fake business names and identities to obscure the recipients of funds involved in the deals.
Even though much of the money in question was transferred through U.S.-based banks, the banks were duped and do not face criminal charges in the matter, according to the Justice Department.
Statement from Justice Department
“These actions send a loud and clear warning to those involved in the illegal proliferation of sensitive materials to Iran that the United States will not spare any efforts to disrupt their actions and bring them to justice,” John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, elaborated in today’s statement.
Statement from Chinese foreign ministry
China criticized the charges against Li in a statement released today. “China is firmly opposed to the U.S. invoking its domestic law to unilaterally sanction Chinese companies or individuals,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang explained. “The steps the U.S. took do not help resolve the problem and hurt the bilateral cooperation in nonproliferation.
“The Chinese government gives high priority to efforts on nonproliferation and harshly punishes any acts which violate its laws and regulations on nonproliferation,” Qin continued.