April 5 (UPI) — The U.S. Treasury has classified North Korea as a country at risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.
The measure marks the first time the Trump administration has blacklisted North Korea as a source of illicit financial transactions, Radio Free Asia reported.
The Treasury also issued a warning to financial institutions, prohibiting them from processing transactions linked to North Korea.
The Treasury Department described North Korea as the country most likely to engage in illegal financial transactions, and the measure follows a similar advisory from the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental anti-money laundering body.
On Feb. 24, the FATF designated North Korea as the country with the highest risk of engaging in money laundering and terrorist financing.
In a previous statement, the Treasury said North Korea’s financial institutions receive marginal supervision, which makes it easier for the regime to move money across borders for illicit purposes.
In March, three North Korean banks were banned from the global messaging network SWIFT, which connects banks and facilitates transactions.
North Korea has also been linked to cyberattacks on financial institutions, and to the theft of $81 million from Bangladesh’s account at the New York Federal Reserve in 2016.
North Korea may have breached the banks to create a network of accounts to move around embezzled funds, most likely being used to finance its nuclear weapons development.