Treasury announces new sanctions aimed at North Korea

Treasury announces new sanctions aimed at North Korea
© Greg Nash

The Treasury Department on Thursday targeted four Chinese entities and nationals for their ties to the government of North Korea, banning them from the U.S. financial system.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Chinese citizens Sun Wei and Li Hong Ri, along with Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co. and Bank of Dandong, for offering financial services and assistance to North Korea.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that while the four targeted entities are Chinese, the action is not intended to be a shot at China. Mnuchin insisted the Trump administration is still committed to working with Beijing to crack down on North Korea’s provocative behavior with its nuclear and missile programs.

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"We are in no way targeting China with these actions,” Mnuchin said during a White House briefing. "We will follow the money and we will cut off the money.

"We continue to work with China,” he added. “This is about North Korea and how serious we are taking this."

U.S. officials said that one of the designated entities, the China-based Bank of Dandong, “acts as a conduit for North Korea" to gain access to U.S. and international financial systems, allowing it to move millions of dollars for companies tied to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

The Treasury office said it is pursuing a ban on U.S. banks and persons opening accounts with or on behalf of Bank of Dandong under the Patriot Act. The agency targeted the two Chinese nationals and the Chinese trading firm under a previously issued executive order cracking down on those who offer financial help to North Korea.

Sun was targeted for his work for Foreign Trade Bank, North Korea’s state export bank, while Li was designated for opening front companies for previously targeted banks that work with North Korea’s government.

Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co. was targeted for allegedly smuggling luxury goods between China and North Korea, violating a United Nations ban on such products entering the country.

–Jordan Fabian contributed