The United States said on Monday it had sanctioned a Chinese industrial machinery and equipment wholesaler, a new step in tightening the financial noose around North Korea's nuclear program after its fifth nuclear test this month.
The U.S. Treasury said it was sanctioning Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development (DHID) and four of its executives, including the firm's founder Ma Xiaohong, under U.S. regulations targeting proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.
It accused the firm of acting on behalf of North Korea's Korea Kwangson Banking (KKBC), which has been under U.S. and U.N. sanctions for supporting proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it had filed criminal charges against the Chinese firm and the executives for using front companies to evade sanctions on North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The charges accuse the firm and the individuals of conspiring to violate sanctions rules and engaging in international money laundering. The Justice Department said bank accounts associated with the firm and front companies received hundreds of millions of dollars that transited through the United States.
"Today's action exposes a key illicit network supporting North Korea's weapons proliferation," Adam Szubin, the Treasury Department's acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.