United States v. Sim Hyon-Sop, et al
The Department of Justice brought charges a North Korean banker and Chinese facilitators for their roles in facilitating the illicit sale of tobacco products in North Korea. As alleged, the defendants engaged in a scheme to purchase leaf tobacco for North Korean state-owned cigarette manufacturers and used front companies and false documentation to cause U.S. financial institutions to process at least 310 transactions worth approximately $74 million that they otherwise would have frozen, blocked, investigated, or declined, had they known that the transactions were connected to trade in North Korea. The transactions generated an estimated revenue amount of up to $700 million for the North Korean manufacturers, one of which was owned by the North Korean military.
As alleged in the indictment, cigarette trafficking, including counterfeit cigarettes, generates significant revenue for advancing North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs, including its nuclear weapons.
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