UK investor presses U.S. to ease N.Korea sanctions

From Reuters:
9/5/2006

The chairman of British investment advisory firm Koryo Asia, which has bought North Korea’s Daedong Credit Bank, said on Tuesday it was pressing the U.S. to ease sanctions against the isolated communist country.

Colin McAskill confirmed to Reuters a newspaper report that Koryo Asia had taken over Daedong Credit Bank. Koryo is also an adviser to the Chosun Fund, which invests in North Korean assets.

“We will take on the U.S. over the sanctions stand-off. They’ve had it too much their own way without anyone questioning what they are putting out,” McAskill said in a report in the Financial Times on Tuesday.

Asked later by Reuters about the reported remarks, McAskill said, “That is true,” but declined to comment further.

North Korea defied international warnings and test-fired seven missiles in early July. Dubbed part of an “axis of evil” by U.S. President George W. Bush, the heavily militarised state enforces tight censorship and a strong personality cult of its leader Kim Jong-il.

The United States imposed strict economic sanctions on North Korea in 1950, some of which were eased under the Clinton administration in the 1990s.

The United Nations passed a resolution in July this year imposing sanctions on the country, demanding that North Korea suspend ballistic missile tests.

Daedong Credit Bank has most of its cash frozen under U.S. trade sanctions imposed last September, the Financial Times said. However, its new UK-based owners want to demonstrate that the accounts were earned legitimately and get sanctions lifted.

McAskill has asked U.S. officials to scrutinse the records of Daedong and has written to the U.S. Treasury department about the matter, the newspaper said.

The latest move comes after Anglo-Sino Capital, a firm based in London which is involved in day-to-day management of the Chosun Fund, won regulatory approval from Britain’s Financial Services Authority in May this year.

The Chosun Fund aims initially to raise $50 million, eventually rising to a total asset size of around $100 million, targeting, for example, a possible revival in North Korea’s financial and mining sectors.

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