US Hits Chinese and Russian Firms Over Breach of North Korea Sanctions

August 16, 2018 Updated: August 16, 2018

WASHINGTON—The United States imposed sanctions on a Russian port service agency and Chinese firms on Aug. 15 for aiding North Korean ships and selling alcohol and tobacco to North Korea, in breach of U.S. sanctions aimed at pressuring it to end its nuclear programs.

The U.S. Treasury said in a statement that the China-based Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading and its Singapore-based affiliate SINSMS Pte. have netted more than $1 billion a year by illegally facilitating the export of alcohol and cigarette products to North Korea.

The department also sanctioned the Russian-based Profinet Pte 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 department said.

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

The sanctions mandate that no U.S. citizen can deal with any of those designated in the order, and any of their properties in the United States “must be blocked,” the Treasury Department said.

The United States has been pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

When asked for comment on the U.S. Treasury statement, Liang Ye, legal representative of Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading, said that the matter was still unclear and that the Chinese company hadn’t received any notice.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said the United States needs to back off its pressure on North Korea if it’s serious about wanting lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Such commentaries aren’t statements on official positions, but can be read as a reflection of the Chinese regime’s thinking.

By Tim Ahmann, Lesley Wroughton, Gao Liangping, Ben Blanchard, & Ryan Woo