The US Treasury Department has named North Korea a “primary money laundering concern”.
The designation Wednesday was aimed at further denying the isolated communist state access to the global banking system following a series of weapons tests, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Treasury’s designation of North Korea, using a provision of the Patriot Act, stipulates that any bank or firm doing banking transactions with North Korean entities runs the risk of being sanctioned by the United States.
The Treasury said in a statement that North Korea’s government uses its entire financial system to engage in money laundering and the procurement of equipment for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, as well as other illicit businesses.
“Today’s action is a further step toward severing banking relationships with North Korea, and we expect all governments and financial authorities to do likewise,” the department’s top sanctions official, Adam Szubin, said.
Under Section 311 of the Patriot Act, Treasury is preparing to impose measures to block North Korean trade.
They include barring countries from processing banking transactions on behalf of Pyongyang, an arrangement known as a “U-turn”.
This measure could hit Chinese banks particularly hard, US officials said. China is by far North Korea’s largest trading partner.
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