While primary sanctions focus remains on Libya and Iran, there have been some recent updates to sanctions targeting North Korea. In the United States, the President issued a new Executive Order banning imports from North Korea, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated a North Korean financial institution. In the United Kingdom, HM Treasury issued an advisory to covered UK entities regarding deficiencies in the anti-money laundering programs of North Korea and Iran.

The Executive Order

On April 18, 2011, the President signed Executive Order 13570 prohibiting the importation into the United States of any goods, services or technology from North Korea. [1] In an accompanying letter, the President reported to the Congress that the new Order further addresses the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13466 (June 26, 2008) and expanded by Executive Order 13551 (August 30, 2010) and implements United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009). [2]

As a result of E.O.s 13466, 13551 and 13570, U.S. Persons are prohibited from:

  • Engaging in transactions with persons (individuals or entities) on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals List; [3]
  • Registering a vessel in North Korea, obtaining authorization for a vessel to fly the North Korean flag, or owning, leasing, operating or insuring any vessel flagged by North Korea; [4]  
  • Importing goods, services or technology (directly or indirectly) from North Korea; [5]  
  • Engaging in transactions that evade, avoid or have the purpose of evading or avoiding the above.  

In addition, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) continues to require a license for the export or reexport of most items subject to the Export Administration Regulations to North Korea. Consistent with obligations under UNSCR 1718, BIS generally maintains a policy of denial for license applications relating to the export or re-export of luxury goods to North Korea. [6]

Designation of the Bank of East Land

In addition, on April 19, 2011, OFAC identified as a Specially Designated National the Bank of East Land (aka Dongbang Bank) for its facilitation of weapons-related transactions for, and other support to, a designated arms manufacturer and exporter and to North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau’s weapons program. [7]

HM Treasury’s Money Laundering Statement

Also on April 19, 2011, HM Treasury issued a Money Laundering Statement advising UK businesses regulated under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 that they should treat transactions associated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran as higher risk for ties to money laundering or terrorist financing. As a result, transactions involving either jurisdiction require additional due diligence and increased scrutiny. [8] This advisory was in response to a Financial Actions Task Force February 25, 2011 statement addressing concerns that the governments of the DPRK and Iran had failed to address significant deficiencies in their respective anti-money laundering programs. [9]

The U.S. and UK moves appear to be coincidental rather than reflecting a new initiative to isolate North Korea. Moreover, since so little is imported from North Korea into the United States and so few international banks are dealing with Dongbang, we do not anticipate these sanctions to affect international trade in any significant way. Nonetheless, those responsible for trade compliance programs should ensure their companies’ ability to conform to the new requirements.