Justice Department filing reveals North Korea's money laundering, oil trade

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MOSCOW (AP) - A senior Russian diplomat is warning against expanding sanctions against North Korea, saying it's necessary to focus on a political settlement.

The yesterday's sanctions targeted 10 Russian and Chinese companies and six individuals involved in conducting business with the reclusive nation.

Washington, Aug 23 Top US lawmakers have welcomed the Trump administration's decision slapping sanctions on Russian and Chinese entities and individuals for helping North Korea advance its missile and nuclear weapons programme.

Under the new measures, any property or interests belonging to the designated persons, which are in the possession or control of American citizens or within the USA, must be blocked, according to the statement.

Yesterday's sanctions target third-country companies and individuals that assist already-designated persons who support North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, deal in the North Korean energy trade, facilitate its exportation of workers, and enable sanctioned North Korean entities to access United States and global financial systems.

"We must continue to isolate the regime, cut off its economic activity and pressure nations, particularly China and Russian Federation, whose companies and citizens help the North generate the resources used to further its aggressive nuclear programme", said Congressman Dan Donovan who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The penalties are meant to complement new U.N. Security Council sanctions and further isolate North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests amid heightened tensions that have led to threats from both sides, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

But the civil complaint filing does show how two front companies in Singapore - Velmur and TransAtlantic - were key nodes in supplying North Korea with fuel products, while also receiving payments from firms associated with the DPRK's sanctioned Foreign Trade Bank.

The sanctions also hit those who help individuals previously penalized for involvement in North Korea's weapons program and assist the country in sending workers overseas.

One of the defectors that USA attorneys are relying on appears to have been very well-placed - the defector had first hand knowledge of "Office 39", a group that maintains a reserve of money for Kim Jong Un.

"We stopped trading with North Korea two years ago". Despite China's opposition to the most recent sanctions, it recently announced it would cut off a number of North Korean imports. While banks can detect and block transactions involving sanctioned businesses, they often miss transactions involving related companies because they do business under a different name.

China on Wednesday urged the U.S.to withdraw new sanctions it imposed on Chinese companies that Washington says are supporting North Korea as it carries out increasingly ambitious missile tests.

China has been "earnestly and comprehensively" implementing U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea, and "our efforts are there for all to see", Hua said.

Richard Nephew of Columbia University said it appeared the USA government was "exploring what the tolerance is to the use of secondary sanctions".

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