WASHINGTON – The Justice Department accused more than two dozen North Korean and Chinese individuals with operating an illegal global financial network to aid Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile program in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The department unsealed a 50-page indictment on Thursday alleging that the effort involved using North Korea's state-owned Foreign Trade Bank to process about $2.5 billion in illegal payments.
"The charges alleged in this indictment arise from a multiyear scheme to covertly access the U.S. financial system in spite of sanctions which are intended to deal with unusual and extraordinary threats to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," according to the indictment by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Despite punishing U.S. and international sanctions and several summits with President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has found ways around the economic restrictions on his country and so far refused to abandon his nuclear weapons program.
A confidential United Nations report earlier this year said North Korea had stepped up its exports of illegal coal shipments in 2019, with most of those deliveries headed for China.