US sanctions have a weak spot: tiny allies like Latvia

RIGA, Latvia (AP) — When the U.S. hit North Korea with sanctions last year, Pyongyang’s state-owned banks found a quiet backchannel to keep money flowing to the country’s ballistic missile programs, the U.S. says: the tiny European country of Latvia.

One of the biggest banks in Latvia — a member country of the European Union and NATO — built a business from processing illegal money transfers, enabling North Korea to continue to procure missiles, the U.S. government says.

Latvia has come into focus as a potential weak link in the West’s banking system as the U.S. and EU increasingly rely on financial sanctions as a weapon in their diplomatic spats — with North Korea, but also Russia and Syria, among others. After a slew of accusations of high-level corruption, Latvia is now trying to appease its U.S. and European allies and drastically reform its financial sector.

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis told The

... read more at: https://www.kpvi.com/news/national_news/us-sanctions-have-a-weak-spot-tiny-allies-like-latvia/article_27f8011e-10c0-59a7-9ac5-4df573336cb2.html