Published: Fri, June 30, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

U.S. blacklists Chinese bank accused of illegally trading with

U.S. blacklists Chinese bank accused of illegally trading with

Dandong is a northeastern Chinese city on the North Korean border and a gateway for trade with the isolated nation.

The Treasury Department declared the Bank of Dandong a 'primary money-laundering concern, ' proposing to sever it entirely from the USA financial system following a 60-day review period.

The announcement comes ahead of a scheduled visit from South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at a press conference that the actions were created to cut off funds that North Korea uses to build its weapons program.

But little more has happened since then and a senior White House official on Wednesday acknowledged that China's moves to ban North Korean coal imports was just a small step in the range of options China could consider to pressure the rogue regime in light of its trading relationship with North Korea. "We will follow the money and cut off the money", he said.

"This is very significant because it is the first bank that we put the index" in the framework of the program of sanctions against North Korea, he continued.

The announcement reflects growing USA frustration over China's efforts to enforce global penalties that are meant to starve North Korea of revenue for its nuclear and missile programs.

"The Department of the Treasury is committed to protecting the US financial system from North Korean abuse and maximizing pressure on the government of North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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It means the bank will now be prevented from having accounts or doing business with United States financial institutions.

The Trump administration in March slapped sanctions against several Chinese businesses and individuals, but could issue far wider-reaching sanctions on Chinese companies and industries that do business with North Korea in a bid to push the Chinese government to more forcefully pressure North Korea into changing its behavior.

Mnuchin said this is part of its efforts against North Korea.

The United States will also impose sanctions on two Chinese individuals and a Chinese shipping company that are believed to have assisted North Korea with its nuclear and missile programs.

When Trump and Moon hold formal talks on Friday, they are likely to discuss a controversial USA missile defense system that has been set up in South Korea to guard against missile threats from the North.

And even as Trump administration officials stressed that a stepped-up campaign of diplomacy and economic pressure remains the administration's preferred strategy, Trump is also keeping military options on the table.

Mnuchin said the decison will require United States banks to ensure that the Bank of Dandong does not access the USA financial system directly or indirectly through other foreign banks. "We continue to work with them", he said.

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