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U.S. Offers $5 Million Reward in Iran Weapons Case

The Obama administration offered a $5 million reward and took other steps against a Chinese man it said is involved in sales of missile parts to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Li Fangwei today was charged in a New York federal court for money laundering and other violations, the Justice Department said. The departments of State, Treasury and Commerce also acted against Li, also known as Karl Lee, and companies the administration said were associated with him.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security added eight Chinese companies and Li to a list of entities subject to special license requirements to receive U.S. exports. The Treasury Department imposed sanctions to prevent alleged proliferator Li from supplying weapons parts to Iran.

“As alleged, Li Fangwei has used subterfuge and deceit to continue to evade U.S. sanctions that had been imposed because of his illicit trade in prohibited materials with Iran,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

The Commerce Department’s actions “send a message that we will not tolerate proliferation networks and will use every means available to shut them down,” Under Secretary Eric L. Hirschhorn said in a statement.

The U.S. has said Li operates front companies to obtain missile parts for Iran, according to the Commerce Department. The companies include Beijing Aeronautical Manufacturing Technology Research Institute, Chengdu Latest Electronics Technology Co. and Weihai New Era Chemical Industrial Co.

The U.S. has charged Li with conspiracy to commit money laundering, bank fraud and wire fraud, the Justice Department said.

The U.S. actions follow sanctions yesterday on 17 companies in Russia’s financial, energy and transportation industries, and seven individuals with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as punishment for the annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. The sanctions imposed today are unrelated to Russia.

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