On July 23, 2020, the US Department of Justice filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Columbia for the forfeiture of $2.37 million against four companies accused of laundering US dollars on behalf of sanctioned North Korean banks in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). According to the complaint, the four unnamed companies were used by designated North Korean banks, to make and receive US dollar payments through North Korean front companies. The complaint states that the front companies were established by covert overseas foreign branch representatives, who utilized the services of commodity brokers and/or unauthorized money remitters to arrange for the front companies to be paid in US dollars.
The DOJ reports that the money laundering scheme involved the participation of sanctioned entities, including Velmur Management Pte. Ltd., a company designated in 2017 by OFAC for importing Russian petroleum to North Korea, and Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co., designated by OFAC in 2017 for purchasing coal from North Korea and laundering the proceeds to purchase nuclear and missile components, among other things, for North Korea.
In a related statement, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers stated that the DOJ will continue to disrupt North Korea’s illicit attempts to access the US financial system as long as the North Korean government is involved in activities involving weapons of mass destruction.