North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits the construction site of Huichon Power Station
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visits the construction site of Huichon Power Station Reuters

The U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned two North Korea companies -- the Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation -- for being controlled and used by a secretive branch of the North Korean government for illicit activities.

By sanctioning them, the Treasury has legally frozen any assets, within the reach of U.S. jurisdiction, of these two companies or individuals related to them. Also, Americans are now forbidden to conduct financial or commercial activities these sanctioned entities.

The Treasury said Korea Daesong Bank facilitates North Korea's illicit financing projects and Daesong General Trading facilitates the country's illicit foreign transactions.

The two companies are possibly involved in the trafficking of arms, illicit procurement of luxury goods, money laundering, cash smuggling, and narcotics smuggling.

Stuart Levey, the Treasury department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said they are key components of a financial network supporting Office 39, a secretive branch of the North Korean government.

The Treasury will continue to use its authorities to target and disrupt the financial networks of entities involved in North Korean proliferation and other illicit activities, said Levey.

On August 30, the Treasury and State Department jointly sanctioned Office 39, Second Academy of Natural Sciences, Reconnaissance General Bureau, Munitions Industry Department, Korea Taesong Trading Company, Korea Heungjin Trading company, Green Pine Associated Corporation, and four North Korean individuals for supporting North Korea's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program.

According to the magazine Vanity Fair, Office 39 is a multi-billion crime syndicate, controlled directly by dictator Kim Jong-il, that runs drug factories, counterfeit cigarettes, counterfeit U.S. dollars, manages Kim's private wealth, buys the dictator luxury items, and finances the country's nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs.