U.S. hits North Korea, Uganda in new rounds of sanctions

The Trump administration set out two new rounds of sanctions Friday — one against North Korean hackers for targeting money, infrastructure and global businesses, and another against the government in Uganda.

The sanctions hold three North Korean entities liable for a number of cyberattacks worldwide, the Treasury Department said Friday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver

The Lazarus Group and two subsidiaries, Bluenoroff and Andariel, have been linked to North Korea’s RGB intelligence bureau. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control blocked all three entities from accessing any property in the United States. Additionally, U.S. citizens are banned from conducting business with them.

“Treasury is taking action against North Korean hacking groups that have been perpetrating cyber attacks to support illicit weapon and missile programs,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. “We will continue to enforce existing U.S. and U.N. sanctions against North Korea and work with the international community to improve cybersecurity of financial networks.”

The sanctions say the Lazarus Group has been behind a number of cyberattacks around the world, including a strike against Sony Pictures in 2014 in retaliation for a film that mocked the North Korean government.

Bluenoroff is accused of stealing $1.1 billion from international banks — in once case cooperating with the Lazarus Group to bilk $80 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh, the department said. Andariel focused attacks against South Korea, including one incident in which it hacked the defense minister’s computer to mine information on military operations.

Altogether, the groups stole $571 million in cryptocurrency in less than two years, the department said, adding that the new sanctions are part of a government-wide effort to protect the U.S. financial system.

As for Uganda, OFAC imposed sanctions against former police inspector Kale Kayihura for human rights abuses in the east African nation. The sanctions block Kayihura from claiming assets in the United States.

Mandelker said Kayihura used corruption and bribery to “strengthen his political position” as his underlings committed “serious human rights abuses.”

“The U.S. government is committed to leveraging our human rights and corruption authorities to target, disrupt and counter those who engage in abuse and corruption around the world.”

ByNicholas Sakelaris