The U.S. on Wednesday designated a Russian bank accused of assisting North Korea in evading sanctions, according to a statement from the Department of the Treasury.
The new measures, which target a bank called Russian Financial Society, are the first unilateral U.S. sanctions related to North Korea to be imposed since March, when President Donald Trump announced a rollback of new “large scale sanctions” against the DPRK.
Russian Financial Society stands accused of assisting the already-designated Dandong Zhongsheng Industry & Trade Co. Ltd, an entity controlled by the DPRK’s sanctioned Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), as well as other Pyongyang-linked entities, in evading sanctions.
“Treasury continues to enforce existing U.S. and UN sanctions against individuals and entities in Russia and elsewhere who facilitate illicit trade with North Korea,” a concurrent statement by U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker reads.
“Those who attempt to circumvent our authorities to provide the DPRK with access to international financial markets expose themselves to significant sanctions risk.”
Through its access to the international financial system, the Treasury says, Russian Financial Society “provided bank accounts” for Dandong Zhongsheng and a representative of the Korea Zinc Industrial Group — one of North Korea’s most prominent mining companies.
“These actions have enabled North Korea to circumvent U.S. and UN sanctions to gain access to the global financial system in order to generate revenue for the Kim regime’s nuclear program,” the statement said.
The Treasury statement names a previously-designated North Korean official named Han Jang Su, described as the FTB’s top representative in the Russian capital, as having “played a key part in acquiring banking services from Russian Financial Society.”
The measures are also the first by the U.S. Treasury to target Russian organizations since August last year, when two entities and six Russian-flagged vessels were designated for ties to the DPRK.
Just a week prior, Washington issued new designations on the Russia-based company Profinet Pte. Ltd. and its Director General Vasili Aleksandrovich Kolchanov.
Russia typically protests U.S. sanctions, which it sees as illegitimate and unilateral.
“The destructive U.S.’ tactics, pursued beyond the framework of the U.N. Security Council and its 1718 Sanctions Committee, is only able to undermine the progress, which has been made recently towards the settlement,” the country’s foreign ministry said in response to the August 2018 designation of Profinet and its director general.
Washington had not provided evidence for the designations, it said, describing them as an “anti-Russian action” which were “fraught with danger.”