Vietnam closing DPRK accounts

from the Joong Ang Daily:

North funds lose havens in sanctions
8/24/2006

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. 

From Yonhap:

Vietnam already shut down N.K. accounts in past few weeks: ICG Seoul director
8/22/2006

Vietnamese banks have already 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.

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, Cowie said in the e-mail.

He did not say where the money was moved to, but Beck said it’s most likely Russia.

“The only financial window they (North Koreans) have left now is Russia, I am told,” 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 Macau-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA).

The U.S. Treasury in September designated BDA 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 U.S. lift the punitive measures on the BDA before Pyongyang returns to the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

The Treasury’s designation led to a run by BDA clients, and the Macau bank froze US$24 million of funds related to North Korea.

Cowie has said in the past that Daesong’s accounts at BDA were not involved in any illegal activities, that its funds are all from legitimate sources.

“Talking to Cowie and others, he’s led me to conclude that it’s not just $24 million in Macau that North Korea is worried about,” Beck said.

“They are worried that Macau is just one step and means of cracking down on all North Korean financial activities, and Stuart Levey’s visit to Hanoi was clearly designed to further tighten the financial noose and get Vietnam to shut down,” he said.

Vietnamese central bank officials said earlier Tuesday that acting upon Levey’s suggestion, Hanoi has ordered all banks to investigate North Korea-related accounts.

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