February 24, 2012

Yakuza, International Gang Members Banned From U.S. Markets

Treasury imposes sanctions on seven crime leaders

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The godfather and deputy godfather of a Japanese yakuza and five members of another criminal group were banned from U.S. markets Thursday in an attempt to protect markets from disrupting activities and the use of illicit funds.

Reuters reported that Kenichi Shinoda and Kiyoshi Takayama, godfather and deputy godfather of the most prominent yakuza crime family, the Yamaguchi-gumi, were the target of sanctions by the U.S. Treasury, as well as five members of the Brothers' Circle, a criminal group that operates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Sanctions require that U.S. financial institutions freeze their assets in this country.

Shinoda and Takayama, according to the Treasury Department, played key roles in directing the syndicate's policies and settling disputes with other groups. Brothers' Circle members targeted by sanctions included a person in charge of production of drugs in Central Asia and two involved in drug trafficking and a shooting between regional factions within a Russian criminal network. According to Treasury estimates, the yakuza family alone reaps billions each year in illicit profits.

David Cohen, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement, "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."

He added, "One of the things that these organizations do is use the wealth they earn from illegal activities to try and infiltrate legitimate markets ... That creates distortion in the market that we are trying to address."

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