The United States had sanctioned a Chinese industrial machinery and equipment wholesaler for alleged for links with North Korean nuclear program, Reuters reported on Monday.
The U.S. Treasury said it was sanctioning Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co (DHID) and four of its executives, including the firm's founder, Ma Xiaohong, under U.S. regulations targeting proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.
It accused the firm of acting on behalf of North Korea's Korea Kwangson Banking Corp (KKBC), which has been under U.S. and U.N. sanctions for supporting proliferation of such weapons.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it had filed criminal charges against the Chinese firm and the executives for using front companies to evade sanctions on North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The charges accuse the firm and the individuals of conspiring to violate sanctions rules and engaging in international money laundering. The Justice Department said bank accounts associated with the firm and front companies received hundreds of millions of dollars that transited through the United States."Today's action exposes a key illicit network supporting North Korea's weapons proliferation,"
Adam Szubin, the Treasury Department's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement."DHID and its employees sought to evade U.S. and U.N. sanctions, facilitating access to the U.S. financial system by a designated entity,"
the statement added.
The announcement came after the White House said last week that President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed in New York on Sept. 20 to step up cooperation in the U.N. Security Council and in law-enforcement channels after North Korea's latest and largest nuclear test on Sept. 9.
On Monday, South Korea's JoongAng Daily newspaper reported that China was investigating a top official
of the KKBC at its branch in the Chinese border city of Dandong.
South Korea said on Tuesday it "highly valued"
Washington's action against the Chinese firm."By exposing the risks of trade with North Korea, we expect this measure to raise the alarm for individuals and entities in third countries as well as China that are trading with North Korea,"
South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement.
In announcing Monday's sanctions, the Justice Department said it was seeking forfeiture of all funds held in 25 bank accounts associated with DHID and its front companies located in various banks in China.