Finance minister issues order in response to North Korean money-laundering fears

Canadian financial institutions have been ordered to treat what few transactions they conduct with North Korea with even greater diligence as the federal government tries to increase pressure on the nuclear-armed nation.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau quietly issued the directive last month following concerns that the North Korean government was skirting international sanctions through money-laundering and other illicit means.

Financial transactions between Canada and North Korea are already extremely limited because of those sanctions, which the federal government imposed in August 2011.

But financial institutions will now have to treat even those few that are allowed, which include remittances worth less than $1,000 and humanitarian aid, as potential cases of money-laundering and report them to the government.

The move comes as Canada prepares for a meeting with allies in Vancouver next week, where the main topic will be finding ways to further squeeze the North Korean government and get it to give up its nuclear program.

The discussions will put a heavy emphasis on stopping North Korean money-laundering as well as smuggling by sea, which U.S. officials have suggested could involve taking action against North Korean shipping.

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