North Korea banks under U.S. sanctions have partners in China, Singapore

China's close economic relationship with state-sanctioned North Korea entities has allowed Pyongyang to establish joint venture banks. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

Sept. 27 (UPI) — The United States Treasury is targeting a total of eight North Korean banks, including Cheil Credit Bank and Koryo Commercial Bank, in order to block currency earnings that could go directly to Kim Jong Un and his weapons program.

The U.S. sanctions announced Tuesday come after U.S. President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13810 last week, further expanding sanctions against Pyongyang.

Secondary boycotts against entities that conduct business with blacklisted North Korea banks and individuals are now in effect, and Pyongyang’s partners overseas could face restrictions if they continue working with North Korea.

Anyone trading with North Korea firms on the list will be blocked from accessing the U.S. financial system, or their assets are to be frozen.

Some of the North Korean banks under sanctions were developed as joint ventures, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Wednesday.

Cheil Credit Bank has been in business for 50 years in partnership with entities in Singapore, and was used as a source of foreign exchange for North Korea.

Koryo Commercial Bank has attracted foreign investment and deals with foreign currency settlements, according to the JoongAng.

Two other banks on the Treasury list, the Jinmyong Joint Bank and Jinsong Joint Bank, are joint ventures with banks in China and are relatively new, said Cho Bong-hyun, a South Korean banking analyst with the Industrial Bank of Korea.

North Korean individuals on the Treasury list work at the banks and are located around the globe.

China’s role in enforcing sanctions, including against North Korean banks, continue to come under international scrutiny.

CNN Money reported Wednesday China began buying banned coal from North Korea in August, importing about $138 million worth of the fuel source.

Analysts said China is not a reliable partner on the North Korea issue, but at least one analyst said the coal purchases may have been made prior to the ban being implemented in February.

China has said it would comply with U.N. sanctions on North Korea coal and other resources.


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