Treasury announces new sanctions to increase pressure on North Korea

Posted June 30, 2017

Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network announced a finding that Bank of Dandong, a Chinese bank that allegedly acts as a conduit for illicit North Korean financial activity, is a foreign bank of primary money laundering concern, and FinCEN has proposed to sever the bank from the US financial system.

And while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the move was not targeted at China's government, it is likely to infuriate Beijing which says it has been unstinting in its efforts to ease tensions with North Korea.

Mnuchin said cutting off the flow of money was "very effective" in bringing Iran to the negotiating table and the seeking to do the same with North Korea.

OFAC said Dalian Global Unity transports goods and products between North Korea and China.

This bank has served as a gateway for North Korea to access the USA and global financial systems? facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea?s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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The US Treasury has identified the Bank of Dandong "to be a foreign financial institution of primary money-laundering concern", serving as "a gateway for North Korea to access the US and worldwide financial systems - facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes", Mnuchin said.

The announcement reflects growing US frustration over China's efforts to enforce worldwide penalties that are meant to starve North Korea of revenue for its nuclear and missile programs.

Dandong is a northeastern Chinese city on the North Korean border and a gateway for trade with the isolated nation.

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Chinese individuals and one shipping company for links to North Korea's weapons proliferation.

Mnuchin said the decison will require U.S. banks to ensure that the Bank of Dandong does not access the USA financial system directly or indirectly through other foreign banks. This action freezes the entire bank out of the United States financial system.

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The sanctions are the latest in a series of signs that the USA has begun to take action to pressure China after months of fruitless efforts to persuade Beijing to exercise more of its influence with the North.

But little more has happened since then and a senior White House official on Wednesday acknowledged that China's moves to ban North Korean coal imports was just a small step in the range of options China could consider to pressure the rogue regime in light of its trading relationship with North Korea. At least I know China tried!' Trump tweeted on June 20.

Mnuchin said the Bank of Dandong has facilitated millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

-Chinese national Li Hong Ri, said to have established several front companies that end up benefiting Koryo Bank, a USA -sanctioned conduct for financial transactions on behalf of North Korea.

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