Four Chinese nationals and a Chinese company were indicted Tuesday for conspiring to evade sanctions on North Korea, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
"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," said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in a statement.
The indictment charges Ma Xiaohong and her company, Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development, as well as Zhou Jianshu, Hong Jinhua and Luo Chuanxu with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and to defraud the United States, along with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
The indictment alleges that Ma, alongside Zhou, Hong and Luo "established front companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, the Seychelles, Hong Kong, Wales, England, and Anguilla, and opened Chinese bank accounts held in the names of the front companies at banks in China that maintained correspondent accounts in the United States," in order to engage in financial activity with North Korea, according to the release.
The defendants are each facing decades in prison if found guilty.