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U.S. Treasury blacklists yakuza group, members

Kunio Inoue of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi
Kunio Inoue of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi

TOKYO (TR) – The U.S. Department of the Treasury has blacklisted an organized crime group that formed last year and some of its key members, the office said in a statement on Friday.

The Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has assigned the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and its key affiliate group, the Yamaken-gumi, as Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO).

As well, executive members Kunio Inoue, the head of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and Yamaken-gumi, Osamu Teraoka and Takashi Ikeda have been labeled Specially Designated Nationals.

The moves freeze all of the assets of the members in the U.S. and generally prohibits persons in the U.S. from doing business with them.

“Today’s designation is part of the Treasury Department’s collective efforts to target the yakuza,” said OFAC Acting Director John E. Smith in the statement. “This action reflects Treasury’s ongoing commitment to protect the U.S. and international financial systems from the malign influence of TCOs and to expose persons who are supporting them or acting on their behalf.”

The statement added that criminal syndicates in Japan maintain relationships with affiliates in Asia, Europe, and the Americas “where [they] uses front companies in legitimate industries, including construction, real estate, and finance, to launder money and hide illicit proceeds. In the United States, [yakuza groups] have been involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.”

The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi formed following the dissolution of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest gang in Japan, in September of 2015. As of the end of last year, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi ranked third as far as size, boasting approximately 6,100 members.

The moves by the U.S. Treasury are a part of the executive order issued by President Barack Obama in 2011 in which the Department is to apply sanctions against participants and supporters of global criminal operations.

Last year, Tadamasa Goto, a former boss in the Yamaguchi-gumi, was similarly blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury as an action under the same executive order.