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North funds lose havens in sanctions

Aug 23,2006
Vietnamese banks have closed down North Korean accounts over the past few weeks, most likely forcing Pyongyang to move its money to its last remaining haven, Russia, said Peter Beck, head of the International Crisis Group’s Seoul office, on Tuesday.
Mr. Beck said Nigel Cowie, general manager of North Korea’s Daedong Credit Bank in Pyongyang, e-mailed him last week and said Vietnamese banks have shut down Daedong’s and other North Korea-held accounts.
Daedong expected such a move by Vietnam after U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey visited Hanoi early last month, and had moved its funds elsewhere, Mr. Cowie said in the e-mail. He did not say where the money was moved to, but Mr. Beck said it’s most likely Russia.
“The only financial window [North Koreans] have left now is Russia, I am told,” Mr. Beck said at a roundtable on North Korea hosted by the Mansfield Foundation. Daedong is one of the several North Korean entities accused of shady financial transactions through Macao-based Banco Delta Asia.
The U.S. Treasury in September designated the Macao bank the primary money-laundering concern abetting Pyongyang’s illicit financial activities that it says range from counterfeiting of American currency to drug trafficking, smuggling of contraband and sales of weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea now demands that the United States lift the punitive measures on Banco Delta Asia before it will return to the six-nation nuclear talks.


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