Asia

US freezes Japan gangsters' financial assets

Kenichi Shinoda gets into a car after arriving at the train station in Kobe, western Japan on April 9, 2011
Image caption The US Treasury is targeting Japan's Kenichi Shinoda

The US has targeted organised crime by freezing the financial assets of two groups - Japan's Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza group and the Brothers' Circle.

The Department of the Treasury said it was also freezing the assets of key members, including Yamaguchi-gumi leader Kenichi Shinoda.

This is the first time measures have been imposed following a presidential executive order last year.

No details were given on the value of the frozen assets.

President Barack Obama issued the executive order in 2011 to "target and disrupt significant transnational criminal organisations".

Under the order members of crime organisations could be identified, their assets within US jurisdiction frozen and their supporters prohibited from doing any transactions in the US.

"They use our financial system, they use our commercial system to both penetrate the markets, to disrupt the markets and to make use of their illicit proceeds," said David S. Cohen, Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, on Thursday.

The Treasury also listed nine individuals - two from the Yamaguchi-gumi and seven from the Brothers' Circle - as being subject to financial sanctions.

The Brothers' Circle, described as a "muti-ethnic criminal group", operates in at least four continents.

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