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Mandatory Sanctions Targeting Chinese Banks Advance in Senate

Anthony Ruggiero
7th November 2017 - Quoted by Rachel Oswald - CQ

Bipartisan sanctions legislation intended to end the Trump administration’s discretion in choosing which Chinese banks to blacklist for doing business with North Korea advanced in the Senate Tuesday with a unanimous 23-0 vote of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

The so-called BRINK legislation (S 1591), as amended, from Sens. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., would impose mandatory sanctions — either asset freezes or blocked access to the U.S. financial system — on foreign financial firms that knowingly do significant business with a North Korean entity that has been blacklisted by the U.S. government or U.N. Security Council.

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Anthony Ruggiero, a former senior Treasury Department official with expertise in targeted financial sanctions, said that while it’s not readily apparent which Chinese banks are knowingly complicit in doing business with North Korean-front companies, a wider Chinese banking culture of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” has enabled Pyongyang to amply skirt multiple rounds of U.S. and U.N. sanctions to the point where its economy is actually expanding.

“We have to stop accepting the excuses of some of the largest banks in the world,” Ruggiero, now a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in a Monday interview. “These banks have access to information that other private sector or public sector folks do not and so the question here is when are Chinese banks going to get serious about identifying these transactions?”

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Tags

china, csif, norht-korea, sanctions