US Treasury imposes sanctions against Japanese crime syndicate

The U.S. Treasury Department says it has taken action against a major affiliate of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest and most prominent "yakuza" crime syndicate.

Treasury says it has targeted the Kodo-kai and its chairman Teruaki Takeuchi, with designations as "significant transnational criminal operations." The designation freezes any assets held in the United States by the organization and its chairman. It also prohibits U.S. firms and individuals from doing business with them.

John E. Smith, the acting director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, says the new sanctions build on the agency's efforts to undermine the yakuza financially and protect the U.S. financial system from the crime syndicate's illicit activities.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2011 targeting the yakuza and authorizing sanctions against members and supporters.