On April 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of State announced the second reward offer under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program. The reward is for up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Chinese weapons proliferator Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee.
Li Fangwei previously was sanctioned by the United States for his alleged role as a principal supplier to Iran’s ballistic missile program. According to the indictment, Li controls a large network of front companies he uses to move millions of dollars through U.S.-based financial institutions to conduct business in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations. Li Fangwei has also been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, a money laundering conspiracy, and two separate counts of wire fraud in connection with such illicit transactions.
The Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program was established in 2013 as a tool to assist U.S. Government efforts to dismantle transnational criminal organizations and bring their leaders and members to justice. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) manages the program in coordination with U.S. federal law enforcement agencies. It is a key element of the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime.
The April 29 announcement was made in coordination with other U.S. agencies taking action against Li Fangwei. The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Li Fangwei on charges including conspiracy to commit money laundering, bank fraud, and wire fraud. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also added eight of Li Fangwei’s front companies to its List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, and the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the addition of nine of his China-based suppliers to its Entity List.
More information about Li Fangwei is available on the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program website at www.state.gov/tocrewards. Anyone with information on Li Fangwei should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation via the Major Case Contact Center at 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324) or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) Carol Perez traveled in early April to Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, where she met with senior leaders and emphasized INL’s continued commitment to support counter narcotics, law enforcement and rule of law priorities in both countries. She also observed a number of INL projects firsthand.
While in Bishkek, PDAS Perez met with the head of the State Drug Control Agency to discuss ways to improve our counter narcotics cooperation efforts that are supported by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. At the Ministry of Interior, Minister Abdulla Suranchiev updated PDAS Perez on his police reform efforts and welcomed further cooperation with INL. PDAS Perez also met with the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General Aida Salyanova to discuss the valued work of the INL-funded DOJ Resident Legal Advisor (RLA) who is assisting Kyrgyz prosecutors to develop better evidenced-based prosecutions that bring criminals to justice. They also discussed how INL and the international community can assist Kyrgyzstan in asset recovery efforts.
Also in Bishkek, PDAS Perez joined the Kyrgyz Ministry of Justice and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime to launch the UNODC Forensic Crime Lab Refurbishment Project. INL provided $1.4 million to support the renovations of the crime lab, which is currently just a building shell, into a modern, fully equipped facility. The project will also strengthen the capacity of Kyrgyz forensic professionals to provide forensic services in line with international standards by providing training on effective forensic methodology and practices. The Kyrgyz Forensic Chief noted that the new facility will expedite the processing of criminal investigations, provide quality service to the criminal justice system and increase public trust in law enforcement.
PDAS Perez’s visit to the Southern Kyrgyz city of Osh afforded her the opportunity to visit a nearby Uzbek village and meet with a Community Security Working Group. In discussions with residents from the Amir-Tumur District, led by INL-funded NGO Saferworld, community members and NGO partners told PDAS Perez about their successes in overcoming ethnic and social boundaries in order to address quality-of-life issues within their communities.
PDAS Perez also visited a neighborhood in Osh and observed the INL-funded Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Community Security Initiative (CSI) mobile police responder units, and she observed how these converted minibuses are used to facilitate citizen access to the police and to rebuild public trust and confidence in the police. In many isolated villages, these units are the only government service that is delivered directly to the community.
PDAS Perez continued on to Tajikistan where, in addition to discussing our counter narcotics and law enforcement assistance with the head of Tajikistan's Drug Control Agency and the First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, she had the opportunity to meet with a group of Tajik female law enforcement officers who are participants in INL Dushanbe's Women's Empowerment Program (WEP). Since 2013, INL has trained more than 40 Tajik female law enforcement officers in a range of areas to include dealing with domestic violence and the prevention of human trafficking. Through the WEP, INL is demonstrating U.S. commitment to helping Tajikistan expand roles for female law enforcement. During the meeting with PDAS Perez, these women expressed how INL support has helped them better understand what they can do to improve themselves professionally and use their knowledge and expertise as the number and role of women in Tajikistan law enforcement expands.
While in Dushanbe, PDAS Perez visited the principal training centers for rank-and-file police and border guards. The director of the police training center briefed her on the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) plans for improving the facility to meet the educational requirements expected as part of the MIA's police reform. At the Border Guard Training Center, where INL supports training by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), PDAS Perez was briefed on plans to repurpose the facilities in order to train additional women from Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
PDAS Perez also traveled to the Tajik industrial city of Tursunzade, home of Central Asia's largest aluminum plant, to visit one of the 16 Community Policing Partnership Teams (CPPT) established by INL in the country. The CPPTs link community leaders and police to address mutual issues and concerns. The leader of the Tursunzade CPPT, a mullah, told PDAS Perez that based on its survey of the community the CPPT was focusing attention on youth, principally through programmed sports activities at a nearby school. PDAS Perez then viewed a karate demonstration by more than two dozen youth, including two slated to compete in a Central Asia regional championship that weekend.
In Monrovia, Liberia, the INL Section works with the Government of Liberia to build its capacity to assume justice and security responsibilities as the UN Mission in Liberia draws down. INL is working closely with the Liberia’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Liberian National Police (LNP), and key judicial actors to strengthen these institutions.
In the last year, INL has significantly improved Liberia’s capability to disrupt trafficking and reduce drug demand. INL has advanced reform of Liberia’s DEA through training and by providing material support and a full-time mentor. In the past six months, Liberia’s DEA made significant drug seizures at Monrovia’s international airport, at the border with Sierra Leone, and elsewhere in the country. In partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), INL supported the Liberian Transnational Crime Unit on several successful interdictions of drugs, wildlife, and property as well as breaking up attempts to traffic people. In partnership with Plan Colombo and UNODC, INL is also assisting Liberia’s efforts to reduce drug demand. Programs with Liberia’s Ministries of Health and Education, and with local NGOs, are in place to train treatment professionals, develop preventive education for schools and build rehabilitation capacity.
INL advisors also mentor LNP leaders. Recently, INL assisted with choosing professional police replacements for several political appointees and helped finance training of the riot-control unit to reach its mandated level of 1,000 officers. INL is supporting the recertification of the elite Emergency Response Unit to ensure its officers meet international proficiency standards; support to the LNP’s Professional Standards Division will ultimately build credibility with the public and the international community. Meanwhile, INL is assisting with repairs and upgrades to the existing radio network used by civilian law enforcement and security agencies.
INL is working to strengthen the justice sector by improving the administrative and management processes and procedures of the Ministry of Justice. Additional support includes training for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other key judicial actors, such as clerks of court and court reporters. Three legal advisors offer training, mentoring, and technical assistance to the Government of Liberia on a range of issues including strengthening the overall effectiveness of the judiciary. Specific areas of focus have been in the prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence. Finally, INL supports decentralized dispute resolution in two strategic rural counties in order to improve security, stability, and the rule of law.
INL continues to make progress through a range of programs that support the Government of Liberia.