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19 September 2014

Wanted: Karl Lee

This case study details the alleged involvement of Li Fang Wei (AKA Karl Lee and numerous other aliases) in supplying Iran’s ballistic missile programme in defiance of United Nations sanctions. This case has dragged on for more than a decade, with the US Department of State designating his initial Dalian-based company, LIMMT Economic & Trade, in 2004. Recent developments in this case considerably escalate its importance. In late April 2014, building on a further indictment, the US designated eight more “entities” connected to Li, although Chinese databases suggest that there are only four companies behind these eight. The US Department of State also announced an unprecedented $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

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This report provides an in-depth look at Li’s network of front companies utilising Chinese language sources. It highlights allegations that Li’s role goes beyond that of middleman: he appears to have growing interests in the manufacture of proliferation-sensitive goods. One of the companies designated in 2014 is shown to be a large graphite factors which previously was believed to be connected to Li. The case also highlights that Li’s manufacturing activities may also be expanding into the manufacture of fibre optic gyroscopes.

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