US Unveils New Sanctions Targeting North Korean Activities In Africa

US Unveils New Sanctions Targeting North Korean Activities In Africa an accessible web community

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

The U.S. has announced new sanctions against multiple North Korean individuals and companies for “illicitly” raising money for Pyongyang’s weapons programs, including two DPRK citizens previously accused of laundering money through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and an art studio operating in Africa.

In a press release published Wednesday, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) listed new designations against Hwang Kil Su and Pak Hwa Song, as well as the DPRK firms Chilsong Trading Corporation, Korea Paekho Trading Corporation and Congo Aconde SARL.

“The DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs threaten international security and regional stability,” Brian E. Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, states in the release. “The United States remains committed to targeting the regime’s global illicit networks that generate revenue for these destabilizing activities.”

The Sentry — a Washington-based investigative organization co-founded by actor George Clooney — first reported on Hwang and Pak’s activities in Aug. 2020, finding that they had illegally opened a bank account in the DRC to launder money after the government contracted them for construction projects.

“North Korea went hunting around the world, looking in every nook and cranny for an access point into the global financial system,” Sentry co-founder John Prendergast said in a press release at the time. “The opening it found was in the DRC, amid a perfect storm of public and private sector vulnerabilities.

The U.N. Panel of Experts that monitors the implementation of the DPRK sanctions regime later stated in its 2021 report that Hwang and Pak set up the Congo Aconde company in 2018 in the DRC city of Lubumbashi “for the purpose of facilitating construction projects.”

In Wednesday’s press release, the Treasury identifies Chilsong as “subordinate” to the North Korean government and states that Pyongyang uses such trading companies “to earn foreign currency, collect intelligence and provide cover status for intelligence operatives.”

The Treasury states that Paekho is subordinate to the DPRK army and has “generated funds for the DPRK government since the 1980s by conducting art and construction projects on behalf of regimes throughout the Middle East and Africa.” Paekho operates an art studio similar to the better-known Mansudae Art Studio.

In a separate statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that the new designations further align U.S. sanctions “with our international partners.” But the measures come over two years after The Sentry first presented its findings, and ten months after the EU designated Paekho and Chilsong.

“The timing [of the new sanctions] says a lot about the Department of Treasury’s sense of urgency,” Joshua Stanton, an expert on DPRK sanctions, wrote in a tweet, calling the delays “inexcusable.”

“The slow designations give North Korea time to “set up new fronts, rotate staff, and hide assets,” he added.

North Korean nationals have remained active in several African countries despite 2017 U.N. sanctions requiring countries to repatriate North Koreans earning income abroad by the end of 2019. In January, for instance, a Libyan hospital announced that it welcomed “dozens” of North Korean medical workers in a likely breach of international sanctions. an accessible web community

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