U.S. authorities try to seize millions of dollars associated with several companies that deal with North Korea from eight large international banks. Grace Lee reports.
Washington taking aim at North Korean money laundering. A federal court granting U.S. prosecutors sweeping powers to investigate millions of dollars tied to Pyongyang that traveled through eight international banks. Those include big names Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan. It's part of a broader effort to cut off funding to the North's weapons program just days after Pyongyang test-launched a missile, capable of striking Alaska. Prosecutors believe the banks have processed more than $700 million in U.S. currency for entities tied to North Korea since 2009, even after President Donald Trump took office. Some of the companies deal with Pyongyang's military. The transfers revolve around a coal-trading company on the Chinese border and four more "front" companies prosecutors say tried to evade sanctions. The filings didn't accuse the banks of knowingly breaking the law. A U.S. judge has authorized special warrants requiring the banks to accept incoming transactions, but not outgoing ones, for the five companies and afterwards seize what they've collected. The judge said the money was spotted because the transfers followed typical patterns of Pyongyang's money laundering, based on information from sources including two North Korean defectors.