The U.S. Justice Department has indicted 28 North Koreans and 5 Chinese nationals on charges of money laundering.
They are charged with using around 250 shell companies to launder at least 2.5 billion U.S. dollars.
The indictment on Thursday by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said they had been running a multiyear scheme to secretly access the U.S. financial system, violating sanctions imposed on North Korea.
The Justice Department said the money then went to North Korea's state-owned Foreign Trade Bank and was used to support the regime's nuclear weapons system.
The indicted include two former presidents of the Foreign Trade Bank, Ko Chol-man and Kim Song-ui, and two former vice presidents, Han Ung and Ri Jong-nam.
In accordance with the UN sanctions on Pyeongyang, North Korean banks have been banned from operating abroad since 2016.
But they were found operating in the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shenyang.
Even though the U.S. has little chance of apprehending those indicted, it has signaled that it's committed to hampering North Korea's ability to illegally access the U.S. financial system and limit its ability to use the money to enhance its weapons programs.
Hong Yoo, Arirang News.