International Issues

Treasury adds 56 North Korean sanctions busters to OFAC screening watch lists

The U.S. Department of Treasury has added one individual, 27 shipping companies and 28 ships to sanctions screening watchlists maintained by the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for allegedly helping North Korea circumvent trade embargoes against it.[i]

The sanctioned entities named are located, registered or flagged in North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and the Comoros Islands.

The State Department and Coast Guard added further weight to the advisory, which warns of significant sanctions risk against those continuing to facilitate the shipment of goods into and out of the rogue nation, a reference especially to businesses to make sure the new entities are included in their regular OFAC screening requirements.

“Treasury is aggressively targeting all illicit avenues used by North Korea to evade sanctions, including taking decisive action to block the vessels, shipping companies, and entities across the globe that work on North Korea’s behalf. This will significantly hinder the Kim regime’s capacity to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and erode its abilities to ship goods through international waters,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.[ii]

The new sanctions, the largest against Pyongyang, is designed as a further move to cut off the regime’s source of revenue for its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Its principal export commodity is said to be coal.

The individual placed under OFAC sanctions was named as Tsang Yung Yuan from Taiwan. According to a Treasury press release, Tsang has coordinated North Korean coal exports with a Russia-based North Korean broker, and he has a history of other sanctions evasion activities.” The release adds that Tsang owns or controls Taiwan-based Pro-Gain Group Corporation, and Taiwan and Marshall Islands-based Kingly Won International Company, which are also flagged by OFAC as parties that U.S. companies are not allowed to have business dealings with.

Mnuchin stressed: “The President has made it clear to companies worldwide that if they choose to help fund North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, they will not do business with the United States.”

[i]  Treasury Announces Largest North Korean Sanctions Package Targeting 56 Shipping and Trading Companies and Vessels to Further Isolate Rogue Regime. U.S. Department of Treasury. Press Release. Accessed February 26, 2018

[ii] Sanctions Risks Related to North Korea’s Shipping Practices. U.S. Department of Treasury. Advisory. Accessed February 26, 2018