US moves to block North Korean access to financial system

WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department has issued new rules to close off North Korea’s access to the U.S. financial system as part of an effort to starve it of revenues for its nuclear and missile programs.

It follows Treasury’s designation of North Korea in June as a “primary money laundering concern” because of the communist nation’s use of front companies to evade international sanctions.

U.S. banks are already generally prohibited from dealing with North Korea. The rules issued Friday under the USA Patriot Act require banks to take additional due diligence to prevent North Korean banks from gaining indirect access to the U.S. financial system via foreign banks.

The action comes as the U.S. pushes China to step up economic restrictions on North Korea after a Sept. 9 nuclear test.