The U.S. Justice Department said on December 15 that it has charged a U.S. citizen with money laundering and evading sanctions on Iran.
The department charged that Kenneth Zong along with four unindicted co-conspirators -- another American and three Iranians -- engaged in fraudulent transactions intended to unlawfully withdraw Iranian-owned funds worth approximately $1 billion from South Korean banks.
Zong was named as the sole defendant in the 47-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and money laundering laws.
Zong, who allegedly received $10 million to $17 million in fees from Iranian associates, used various fake businesses and transactions from 2011 through April 2014 to dupe regulators and withdraw roughly $1 billion in Iranian-owned funds from South Korean bank accounts.
The funds were converted into more easily traded currencies, such as U.S. dollars and euros, by tricking South Korean regulators into thinking the transactions were legitimate, the department said.
The converted funds were transferred to more than 10 countries around the world, including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy, prosecutors said.