U.S. accuses Chinese company of money-laundering for North Korea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has accused a Chinese-based company of acting as a front for laundering money on behalf of a sanctioned North Korean bank and has filed a complaint seeking $1.9 million from it, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

Mingzheng International Trading Limited has facilitated prohibited dollar transactions through the United States on behalf of the Foreign Trade Bank, a North Korean bank, and laundered the proceeds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia said in a statement.

The $1.9 million forfeiture action “represents one of the largest seizures of North Korean funds by the Department of Justice,” it said.

The sum was transacted in 2015 by Mingzheng, based in the Chinese city of Shenyang, via wire transfers, using their Chinese bank accounts, the statement said.

Mingzheng could not be immediately reached for comment

In March 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department placed the Foreign Trade Bank under sanctions linked to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It described the bank as a state-owned entity that “acts as North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank,” the U.S. prosecutors’ statement said.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the country

opposed, in principle, the use of unilateral sanctions outside the scope of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“The foreign trade bank mentioned by the United States is not on the list of U.N. sanctions for North Korea, so we oppose any country using their own so-called domestic laws to implement long arm jurisdiction,” he told a regular news briefing.

Reporting by the Washington Newsroom; Additional reporting by Christian Shepherd in Beijing; Editing by Peter Cooney and Clarence Fernandez