Thursday, June 18, 2009

North Korea emptying foreign accounts

North Korea is rushing to withdraw money from its overseas bank accounts in Macau and elsewhere after the United Nations imposed financial and other sanctions for its latest nuclear test, a report said on Wednesday.

South Korea's Dong-A Ilbo said funds were being pulled out of almost all the communist state's foreign accounts held either by individuals or trading firms. It gave no details.

"As the sanctions are in place, the possibility exists. We are trying to verify the news report," a National Intelligence Service spokesman told AFP.

Security Council Resolution 1874 passed last Friday calls on UN member states to expand sanctions first imposed on the North including tougher cargo inspections, a tighter arms embargo and new targeted financial restrictions to choke off revenue for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile sectors.

Last week, before the resolution was passed, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said Seoul had given Washington details of 10-20 bank accounts held by North Koreans in China, Switzerland and elsewhere.

You'll recall in 2005 the US Treasury Department blacklisted Macau's Banco Delta Asia on suspicion of money-laundering and handling North Korea's counterfeit notes.The move effectively froze Pyongyang's access to about $US25 million in BDA and led other nations to cut off financial dealings with the North.

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