Chinese shell firms accused of helping ZTE sell American tech to North Korea
15 Sep 2020

The United States has accused two Chinese shell companies of helping China’s technology giant ZTE sell banned telecommunications equipment to North Korea.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Friday, Ryer International Trading and Rensy International Trading served as go-betweens for ZTE, which sold the equipment – allegedly made with American parts – to North Korea between 2010 and 2016 in violation of US sanctions law.

The US government has filed for the two companies and their representatives to forfeit close to US$1 million.

“This complaint illuminates how procurement networks coordinate with front companies to move North Korean money through the United States to obtain US-origin technology in violation of sanctions and money laundering laws,” said Michael Sherwin, acting US attorney for the District of Columbia.

The criminal complaint alleges Ryer and Rensy acted as intermediaries to negotiate purchase contracts, request payments and receive the goods on behalf of the North Koreans.

It said also that two Chinese nationals who ran Ryer tried to direct the profits from their endeavours through the US government’s EB-5 immigrant investor programme, which can lead to permanent residency.

The two companies are also accused of helping North Korea to launder money through sanctioned banks.

“This case demonstrates that we will use all tools in our Threat Finance Unit’s portfolio to disrupt activity by the North Korean regime that harms US national security, regardless of where they are doing business,” Sherwin said.

North Korea is prohibited from buying and selling a wide range of goods, including hi-tech equipment, as punishment for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

Some of the sanctions are based on American law, and others were put into effect by the UN Security Council, of which China is a permanent member and has veto power.

By Jacob Fromer, South China Morning Post, 12 September 2020

Read more at South China Morning Post

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