U.S. targets Chinese businessman, says he supplied parts for Iranian missiles

Li Fangwei wanted by the FBI.

Story highlights

  • U.S. authorities announce new sanctions and criminal charges
  • They say Li Fangwei supplied Iran's military with parts for ballistic missiles, other equipment
  • Li, his companies and associates are accused of money laundering, wire fraud
  • The Chinese aren't expected to turn Li over to the U.S.

U.S. authorities announced new sanctions and criminal charges against a Chinese businessman who the U.S. says supplied the Iranian military with parts for ballistic missiles and other equipment.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office on Tuesday unsealed an indictment against Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee, accusing him, his companies and associates of money laundering and wire fraud, and of being part of a ring that evades sanctions to supply Iran's missile program. The Treasury, Commerce and State departments also announced new sanctions against Li and his companies.

The State Department also announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest, and the U.S. has sought an Interpol red notice to seek his detention. Chinese authorities aren't expected to turn over Li to face charges, so the actions by the U.S. for now are only likely to make it difficult for him to travel outside China without fear of arrest.

Li was indicted in 2009 by a grand jury on charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney, accusing him of using false names to process payments of sales to Iran through New York banks.

Treasury officials also sanctioned him in 2006, seeking to cut him off from the U.S. financial system.

Despite those sanctions, U.S. authorities say, Li's companies and their Iranian partners used new shell companies and other ways to continue to do business. He told Reuters in 2013 that his companies did only legitimate business with Iran, selling steel and other metals.