US blacklists South African for business ties to North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. authorities have accused a Russian-born citizen of South Africa of taking part in a scheme to help North Korea evade sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear weapons program.

The Treasury Department says Vladlen Amtchentev worked with Singapore-based front companies to launder millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned North Korean banks.

Amtchentev was placed on an international financial blacklist Monday by the Treasury Department. The action freezes any U.S. assets Amtchentev may have and bars any U.S. organizations from conducting financial transactions with him.

The U.S. filed criminal charges against the front companies in August 2017.

Washington’s intensification of sanctions against North Korea has become a sticking point in negotiations on ending its nuclear program that have appeared to stall in recent months.

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