Alleged Iranian Nuke Smuggling Plot Involving New York City Banks Uncovered

A New York district attorney announced a sweeping indictment, charging a businessman with setting up accounts at New York banks to help Iran get nuclear weapons materials.

The 118-count indictment from Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau's office accused Chinese national Li Fang Wei and his company LIMMT Economic and Trade Co. LLC of violating a United Nations embargo with nearly 60 transactions over the past two years.

The indictment said Li used shell companies and bank accounts with aliases to transfer money for the transactions between November 2006 and September 2008.

Morgenthau said Tuesday that the payments were sent to and from a limited number of Chinese banks that handled accounts for Li and his companies. He said he had jurisdiction because Manhattan banks were used.

"This case will cut off a major source of supply to Iran and it shows how they are going ahead full steam to get a nuclear bomb," a law enforcement source told the New York Daily News. "Long-range missiles they pretty much have already."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Li's businesses and six other Iranian companies for their role in the alleged proliferation network.

"We are acting under our Security Council and other international obligations to prevent these entities from abusing the financial system to pursue centrifuge and missile technology for Iran," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said.

The U.N. embargo bans the transmission to Iran of certain missile and nuclear technology that would permit the development of nuclear weapons.

The company is headquartered in Dalian, China, where Li resides. Morgenthau said he will ask the government there to extradite him to the United States.

Click here for more on this story from the New York Daily News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.