U.S. authorities have also put eight trading firms that were allegedly operated by Li Fangwei on a sanctions list and seized close to $7 million attributed to Li’s front companies.
Li, who is better known by the alias of Karl Lee, has been prohibited from doing business with U.S. companies since 2006.
“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,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“Previously having been exposed as a violator of those sanctions, Li spun a web of front companies to carry out prohibited transactions essentially in disguise.”
Li is charged with substantive violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, two charges of conspiracy to violate it, conspiracy to launder money, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. If caught and convicted, he faces decades in prison.
The U.S. doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Li’s home country China, and according to U.S. officials, he hasn’t traveled to any countries where they could seize him. Any information leading to the arrest of Li will be rewarded with up to $5 million, the U.S. State Department said.