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FILE - In this May 10, 2016 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

DOJ is charging a Chinese company and four people with helping North Korea's nuke program

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FILE - In this May 10, 2016 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea.  (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
FILE - In this May 10, 2016 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

The Justice Department charged four Chinese nationals and a Chinese company Monday with violating sanctions and laundering hundreds of millions of dollars through the United States to aide North Korea's Pyongyang's nuclear program.

FBI and DOJ officials made the announcement Monday, saying the company was facilitating prohibited U.S. dollar transactions on behalf of North Korea through shell companies to evade U.S. regulations.  The claim alleges that Ma Xiaohong and her company, Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co., evaded U.S. sanctions to aid North Korea.

The complaint states that the money was transferred through 25 accounts "all of which are subject to forfeiture as property involved in the international money laundering conspiracy." 

"The charges and forfeiture action announced today allege that defendants in China established and used shell companies around the world, surreptitiously moved money through the United States and violated the sanctions imposed on North Korea in response to, among other things, its nuclear weapons program," Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said in a press release. "The actions reflect our efforts to protect the integrity of the U.S. banking system and hold accountable those who seek to evade U.S. sanctions laws."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson of the District of New Jersey signed a criminal complaint Aug. 3, charging Ma Xiaohong (Ma) and her company, Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co. Ltd. (DHID), which is based in China and three of the companies top executives, "with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and to defraud the United States; violating IEEPA; and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments," the DOJ stated.

"The charges unsealed today reflect our nation's commitment to using all tools to deter and disrupt weapons of mass destruction proliferators," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said. "One of the strengths of our sanctions programs is that they prevent sanctioned wrongdoers from engaging in U.S. dollar transactions. Denying the use of the U.S. financial system can greatly curtail illegal activities and disrupt efforts to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists and rogue nations."

The DOJ filed a civil forfeiture action for all funds contained in "25 Chinese bank accounts that allegedly belong to DHID and its front companies." 

According to the DOJ, there are no allegations of wrongdoing by the U.S. correspondent banks or foreign banks that maintain these accounts. 

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC 

For more news, check out today's 60 Second Circa. 

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