Archive for the ‘Vietnam’ Category

N. Korea kept millions at Vietnam bank

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

From Kyodo News:

North Korea’s Tanchon Commercial Bank, which has been identified by the United States as the primary financial facilitator of that country’s ballistic missile program, had until recently held dollar and euro accounts at Vietnam’s Military Commercial Bank, a Military Commercial Bank official said recently.

The official said millions of both dollars and euros, respectively, had been deposited in the accounts.

But the funds were hastily transferred to other banks, including a German bank, in July after the State Bank of Vietnam, the country’s central bank, acceded to a U.S. request and began checking on any North Korean accounts involved in suspicious banking transactions.

Tanchon Commercial Bank is among North Korean entities that the United States has since June last year designated as proliferators of missiles and weapons of mass destruction, or their supporters, imposing sanctions aimed at denying them access to the U.S. financial and commercial systems.

The United States is urging other members of the United Nations to identify, track and freeze financial transactions and assets of such North Korean entities as the first step in implementing a binding U.N. Security Council resolution adopted last month.

The unanimous Security Council resolution, which condemned North Korea’s ballistic missile launches in early July, requires all U.N. member nations to prevent the transfer of financial resources that could help North Korea’s missile and WMD programs.       

The U.S. Treasury Department identifies Tanchon Commercial Bank as the main financial agent for North Korea’s sales of conventional arms, ballistic missiles, and goods related to the assembly and manufacture of such weapons, which have provided Pyongyang with a significant portion of its export earnings and financially aided its own weapons development and arms-related purchases.

The Pyongyang-based bank held accounts at Macao’s Banco Delta Asia SARL, which the United States in September 2005 subjected to sanctions as a “primary money laundering concern” that had facilitated a range of North Korean illicit activities.

While it was not clear when the funds were deposited in the North Korean accounts at the Vietnam’s Military Commercial Bank, the bank official said they were transferred from a German bank and from the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam, or Vietcombank.

According to sources, financial intelligence authorities of the United States, South Korea and Japan recently compiled a report on North Korea’s overseas bank accounts that singled out 23 accounts in 10 countries, including Russia, deemed suspicious. Among the total, around 10 were in Vietnamese banks.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey, responsible for terrorism and financial intelligence issues, visited Vietnam in mid-July and called for Hanoi’s cooperation in investigating and freezing the suspicious North Korean bank accounts.

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Vietnam closing DPRK accounts

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

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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Vietnam Central Bank Investigates North Korean Accounts

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Daily NK
Yang Jung A
8/21/2006

Vietnam, 1 of 10 Countries with North Korean Accounts

After the U.S. financial sanctions last year, the Kim Jong Il regime has set-up accounts with 23 banks from 10 countries including Vietnam, Mongolia, Thailand and Russia. The U.S. now sends a warning to countries with financial relationships with North Korea.

On the 20th, U.S. data and analytics provider ‘Bloomberg’ published a report by Professor Lee Young Hwa of Japan’s Kansai University, stating that Vietnam has set-up at least 10 accounts with North Korea.

Furthermore, the report stated that North Korea has established accounts with other South-East Asian countries and parts of Europe.

Professor Lee said “Through counterfeit money, fake cigarettes and illegal acts, North Korea is not conducting lawful trade nor initiating proper bank accounts. This report depicts the true melancholic situation of North Korea.”

After his visitations to South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore, on July 18th-19th, U.S. Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) Stuart Levey, informed Bloomberg’s to alert and warn countries with financial ties to North Korea.

Following the U.S. warning, Vietnam Central Bank began investigations on Vietnam’s City Bank accounts with North Korea.

In addition, on the 19th a newspaper Sankei Shimbun also reported that 23 banks of 10 countries had established financial accounts with North Korea.

The newspaper which cites news and issues on North Korea, reported that Vietnam, Mongolia and Russia were a few of the 10 countries associating with North Korea.

Further, the newspaper revealed that the U.S. is insisting that it would freeze banks in order to intervene in North Korea’s transfer of funds,

U.S. authorities say that the affect of the U.S. financial sanctions was stronger than the affect of Banco Delta Asia. As a result, it appears that North Korea began to instigate accounts with countries in South-East Asia in which it already has international relationships.

It was reported that North Korea began to use hidden personal identities to open accounts so as to avoid regulations and account freezes.

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