Skip to main content

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

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Reporter
updated 3:13 PM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Li Fangwei wanted by the FBI.
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.

Washington (CNN) -- 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
ADVERTISEMENT