UPDATE 3 (2015-2-4): NK News picked up the Choson Sinbo piece and offered these comments:
But other regime watchers suggested that there are at least certain segments of the North Korean elite who do indeed want money laundering combated.
“There’s a cohort of DPRK businessmen who want the country to take more active steps in dealing with financial improprieties because they are losing money or opportunities,” said Michael Madden of North Korea Leadership Watch. “The DPRK leadership, particularly Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong, is thinking more long-term on this.”
And Christopher Green of the Daily NK suggested that this was an effort by the North Korean government to not only avoid sanctions, but assert its control over the domestic financial industry by cracking down on money launderers.
“The state wants to bring into its remit all those rogue financial elements that occasionally tend to fall outside the remit of the ruling coalition,” he said. “The state is in a constant battle to stay as top dog in the financial sector in a country where so much is illegal for historical and political reasons – and illegality is always exploited eventually.”
And Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group suggested that the North may have its eye on its northern neighbor with this move.
“I think it will be helpful – from the DPRK perspective – if Pyongyang ever needs to plead their case with Beijing to avoid financial sanctions that include Chinese banks since they are critical for the DPRK’s international financial linkages,” Pinkston said.
Kim Chon Gyun told the Choson Sinbo that the nation’s penal code has already been revised to reflect international standards when punishing money laundering.
North Korea has created a national committee on efforts to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, a senior Pyongyang official confirmed Tuesday.
The communist nation’s move came after it joined the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), the Asia-Pacific arm of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), last year.
“The National Coordinating Committee is an organ to guide projects to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism,” Kim Chon-gyun, head of North Korea’s central bank said in an interview with the Chosun Sinbo. The newspaper is published by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon.
The panel, chaired by a deputy premier of the Cabinet, involves officials from the central bank, the foreign ministry, the finance ministry, and law-enforcement authorities, he added.
The North has already revised its penal code to take punitive measures against related violations in accordance with international norms, said Kim.
In January, Pyongyang said that it sent a letter to the FATF, based in Paris, pledging the sincere implementation of an action plan to meet global anti-money laundering standards.
UPDATE 1 (2015-2-3): The Chosun Sinbo has posted an article on anti-money laundering measures in the DPRK. Here is a rough translation:
[Interview] Kim Chon-kyun, the President of the Central Bank of the DPRK, Cooperation with International Organizations for Prevention from Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
“Establishment of the National System for Preventing from Illegal Acts”
By Kim Ji-young, reporter from Pyongyang
Kim Chon-kyun, the President of the Central Bank of the DPRK presented, at the interview with the Choson Sinbo, the opposite stance of North Korean government against money laundering and terrorist financing as follows.
“What cannot be allowed according to institutional characteristics”
– A letter from the president of the Central Bank of the DPRK that pledged to implement plans for action for prevention from money laundering and terrorist financing was submitted to Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Jan 1st. How has the negotiation between North Korea and FATF proceeded?
The implementing recommendations of the plans for action we pledged this time were consented at the negotiation between North Korea and Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering in Cambodia on September 2014.
When looking into the recommendations, it included maintaining cooperative relations such as sharing data and proceeding cooperation with organizations, joining as a member state, devising a means to sanction and to punish on money laundering and terrorist financing, reinforcing the confirmation procedure of traders, establishing financing watching and information business system including reporting surreptitious trade, joining in international agreement, assessing loca, etc. These measurements are, in a word, that we should establish national system to punish severely illegal acts like internal/external money laundering and terrorist financing.
North Korea institutionally does not allow those illegal acts.
Long before such “international standard” appeared, North Korea already set legal, organizational measurement adequate for our society to prevent from money laundering –like acts. This is specifically described on our laws and those regulations have renewed according to the need for development in reality.
It is interesting that the head of the central bank is the point man for this operation because the DPRK’s central bank does not have the authority to hold foreign currency accounts–only accounts denominated in DPRK won. It seems to me that international money laundering should also be of concert to the Foreign Trade Bank, a sanctioned entity that is responsible for managing hard currency deposits in the DPRK.
ORIGINAL POST (2015-1-24): According to the Pyongyang Times:
DPRK commits itself to anti-money laundering action plan
The Governor of the DPRK Central Bank on January 15 sent a letter to the Financial Action Task Force on Anti-Money Laundering, assuring it that the country would implement the Action Plan of International Standard for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, a spokesman for the DPRK National Coordinating Committee on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism told KCNA on January 16.
He described this as a manifestation of the DPRK government’s political will based on its consistent stand to step up international cooperation in this field.
Recommendations of the action plan are legislative and organizational measures to criminalize and punish money laundering and financing of terrorism, and almost all of them have long been implemented in the DPRK to suit its actual conditions, according to the spokesman.
The DPRK will sincerely implement the action plan as it has pledged itself for the promotion of mutual understanding with member nations in the face of the obstructive moves of the US and some other countries that are reluctant to cooperate with the international organization, he stated.
He requested the organization to positively respond to the DPRK’s cooperative efforts as it assured in negotiations with the country.