G7 calls for tougher controls on North Korea’s “illegal” financial activities

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – The finance ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) nations on Wednesday called on governments and banks to tighten control over North Korea’s “illegal” financial activities, saying that Pyongyang has managed to circumvent international sanctions.

Following a surprise announcement by the United States that a high-level meeting with Pyongyang would be held in preparation for a summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, finance ministers expressed concerns over the use of a network of fictitious companies to secure financial resources.

“We are concerned about North Korea’s flight from international sanctions and its continued ability to access the international financial system,” the finance ministers said in a joint statement.

“Financial institutions in the G7 also play an important role in the fight against illegal financial activities of North Korea,” the statement said, referring to North Korea’s “deceptive financial practices”.

The finance ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union have urged other countries to “watch out and take steps” to ensure that North Korean firms are not dealt with.

North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles “constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security,” the ministers said in a statement, noting that they had already presented them to UN Security Council sanctions.

“We will continue to exercise maximum economic pressure against North Korea,” the statement said.

The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against a number of North Korean and Chinese firms working for Pyongyang, and has largely blocked the use of the international financial system.