US Sanctions Chinese and Russian Tech Firms Over Funds for North Korea

September 14, 2018 Updated: September 14, 2018

WASHINGTON/SEOULThe United States on Sept. 13 imposed sanctions on a China-based tech firm, its North Korean CEO, and a Russian subsidiary, accusing them of moving illicit funding to North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions.

The new sanctions target China-based Yanbian Silverstar Network Technology Co., its North Korean chief executive Jong Song Hwa, and a Russian-based sister company, Volasys Silver Star, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.

“These actions are intended to stop the flow of illicit revenue to North Korea from overseas information technology workers disguising their true identities and hiding behind front companies, aliases, and third-party nationals,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Mnuchin warned companies across the globe “to take precautions to ensure that they are not unwittingly employing North Korean workers for technology projects.”

South Korea’s foreign ministry said the move was in line with the United States’ resolve to keep up sanctions to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula while carrying out dialogue.

In February 2013, Washington imposed sanctions on a number of Chinese businesses that aided North Korea with its nuclear weapons program. Among those were BST Technology and Trade Company, China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation, Dalian Sunny Industries, and Poly Technologies Incorporated.

The Trump administration has maintained sanctions pressure on Pyongyang in an effort to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, which are a threat to the United States.

Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June at a summit in Singapore where Kim agreed in broad terms to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But North Korea has given no indication it is willing to give up its weapons unilaterally, as the Trump administration has demanded.

Washington has also accused Russia of violating U.N. sanctions on North Korea by granting work permits to North Korean laborers despite Russia’s denial of any such actions.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Moscow on Thursday of seeking to cover up breaches of U.N. sanctions on North Korea by Russians.

Earlier this month, Washington charged and sanctioned Park Jin Hyok and a Chinese-based front company he worked for, Chosun Expo, over the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware cyberattack and the 2014 cyber assault on Sony Corp.

Park worked as part of a team of hackers, known as the Lazarus Group, to try to breach multiple U.S. businesses, including defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., U.S. officials said, though there was no evidence the company was breached.

North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency denied the charges and said Park was “non-existent.”

By Tim Ahmann & Hyonhee Shin. Epoch Times staff member Emily O’Neill contributed to this report.