US blacklists Russian, Chinese companies for breaking North Korea embargo

A North Korean flag flying at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland.
A North Korean flag flying at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States on Wednesday (Aug 15) imposed sanctions on a Russian port service agency and Chinese firms for aiding North Korean ships and selling alcohol and tobacco to Pyongyang in breach of US sanctions aimed at pressuring North Korea to end its nuclear programmes.

In a statement, the US Treasury said China-based Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading and its Singapore-based affiliate SINSMS had netted over US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) a year by exporting alcohol and cigarette products to North Korea.

Additionally, the department sanctioned Russian-based Profinet and its director-general, Vasili Aleksandrovich Kolchanov, for providing port services on at least six occasions to North Korean-flagged ships.

Kolchanov was personally involved in North Korea-related deals and interacted directly with North Korean representatives in Russia, the Treasury department said.

"The tactics that these entities based in China, Singapore, and Russia are using to attempt to evade sanctions are prohibited under US law, and all facets of the shipping industry have a responsibility to abide by them or expose themselves to serious risks," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Washington has been pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme.