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Uncle Sam sanctioned North Korea even before recent attacks

Stuart Levey

Five days before North Korea began shelling a South Korean island near the port city of Inchon, the U.S. Treasury Department moved against the belligerent and unpredictable North Korean government by adding Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corp. – two North Korean entities -- to its list of economically sanctioned organizations.

On Nov. 18, U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey, said, “Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation are key components of Office 39's financial network supporting North Korea's illicit and dangerous activities. Treasury will continue to use its authorities to target and disrupt the financial networks of entities involved in North Korean proliferation and other illicit activities."

The Treasury Department did not identify any specific buildings, properties or other assets that it claimed were owned by the bank or trading company, were physically located inside the United States and could be immediately seized. A quick search by Government Security News for such offices or assets inside the U.S. similarly did not turn up anything.

On Nov. 24, the day after the North Korea shelling, the Treasury Department’s office of foreign assets control, announced that based on actions taken before the most recent outbreak of artillery fire, a total of one individual and three entities related to North Korea (including the bank and trading company) were deemed to represent “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

The move against the North Korean bank and trading company were made in accordance with Executive Order 13551, signed by President Obama, last August.

“E.O. 13551 targets for sanctions individuals and entities facilitating North Korean trafficking in arms and related materiel; procurement of luxury goods; and engagement in certain illicit economic activities, such as money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods and currency, bulk cash smuggling and narcotics trafficking,” said the Treasury Department announcement on Nov. 18. “As a result of today's action, any assets of the designated entities that are within U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these entities.”

It remains to be seen whether these economic sanctions by the U.S. played any role in instigating North Korea’s most recent aggression against its neighbor to the south.


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