US takes more steps to block North Korea's access to US financial system

The US Treasury Department has declared North Korea a "primary money laundering concern".
The US Treasury Department has declared North Korea a "primary money laundering concern".PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters/AFP) - The United States on Wednesday (June 1) took steps to further block North Korea's access to the US financial system in response to what it said was the threat the isolated country posed to the global financial system, and it urged other countries to take similar steps.

In a statement, the US Treasury Department said it had declared North Korea a "primary money laundering concern" and called for a prohibition on certain US financial institutions maintaining "correspondent accounts" with North Korean financial institutions.

The move, which if finalised would block any North Korean financial activities from the US banking system, comes in parallel to a recent United Nations Security Council resolution that could require all UN members to cut off banking relations with Pyongyang.

The move makes sure that any third-party deals involving significant sums of US dollars cannot transit in the US.

"The United States, the UN Security Council, and our partners worldwide remain clear-eyed about the significant threat that North Korea poses to the global financial system," said Mr Adam Szubin, the US Treasury's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

"Today's action is a further step toward severing banking relationships with North Korea and we expect all governments and financial authorities to do likewise pursuant to the new UN Security Council Resolution."