The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank, a Chinese company and two Chinese citizens in an effort to crack down on North Korea's financing and development of weapons of mass destruction.
The Treasury Department declared the Bank of Dandong a 'primary money-laundering concern, ' proposing to sever it entirely from the USA financial system following a 60-day review period.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this this is a "very significant" action as it cuts off "millions of dollars" from North Korean leadership.
"The designation will make reputable Western banks ask questions about larger financial institutions in China", said Ruggiero, now a senior fellow at the non-profit Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "We will follow the money and cut off the money", he said. Treasury alleged that some of those transactions were related to North Korea's missile programs.
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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 USA financial system. The U.S. move escalates pressure on Beijing to rein in North Korea, its wayward ally.
Mnuchin said USA officials were continuing to look at other companies that may be helping North Korea and may roll out additional sanctions.
Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) says that one Chinese citizen, Sun Wei, has been "closely aligned with" and running a cover company on behalf of North Korea's primary foreign exchange bank, FTB, which was already under US sanctions for facilitating transactions "on behalf of North Korea's WMD proliferation network".
Mnuchin said the decison will require United States banks to ensure that the Bank of Dandong does not access the USA financial system directly or indirectly through other foreign banks. "We are committed to targeting North Korea?s external enablers and maximizing economic pressure on the regime until it ceases its nuclear and ballistic missile programs", he said.
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He said that "nobody is off limits" when it comes to giving illegal financial assistance to North Korea.
A Treasury statement named the bank as the Bank of Dandong and the firm as Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co Ltd.
The sanctions ban American individuals and companies from doing business with those identified in Thursday's announcement.
The Trump administration has blacklisted a Chinese bank accused of illicit dealings with North Korea.
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