Archive for the ‘Daedong Credit Bank’ Category

US sanctions DPRK Daedong Credit Bank

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Here is the press release from the Treasury Department:

Treasury Sanctions Bank, Front Company, and Official Linked to North Korean Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs

6/27/2013
Action Targets North Korea’s Use of Deceptive Financial Practices
to Support its Weapons Programs

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury took another step in our ongoing efforts to disrupt North Korean financial networks supporting the regime’s illicit ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and proliferation activities. Daedong Credit Bank (DCB), together with DCB Finance Limited—a DCB front company—and DCB’s representative Kim Chol Sam were designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets proliferators of WMD and their supporters. The financial operations carried out by DCB, DCB Finance Limited, and Kim Chol Sam are responsible for managing millions of dollars of transactions in support of the North Korean regime’s destabilizing activities.

The Treasury Department also designated Son Mun San, the External Affairs Bureau Chief of North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE) under E.O. 13882 for his work directing North Korea’s nuclear-related research efforts. The GBAE, which was previously designated by the U.S. and the UN, is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program, which includes the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center and its five megawatt plutonium production research reactor, as well as its fuel fabrication and reprocessing facilities.

“Although the recent spate of provocations has waned, North Korea’s dangerous and destabilizing illicit nuclear and ballistic missile program continues apace, supported by North Korean financial institutions like Daedong Credit Bank. We are committed to increasing the sanctions pressure on North Korea until it complies with its international obligations,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “We urge financial institutions around the world to be wary of dealing with Daedong Credit Bank and the other designated entities in order to maintain the transparency and legitimacy of the international financial system.”

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and proliferation activities violate UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), and 2094 (2013); destabilize the region; and undermine the global nonproliferation regime. Today’s designations build upon other recent U.S. efforts to target DPRK proliferation activities, including the March 2013 designation of North Korea’s main foreign exchange bank, the Foreign Trade Bank (FTB).

Daedong Credit Bank has engaged in the same type of activity that was at issue in the FTB designation, most notably providing financial services to the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID), Pyongyang’s premier arms dealer as well as KOMID’s main financial arm, the Tanchon Commercial Bank (TCB), both of which have been previously designated by the U.S. for the central role they play supporting North Korea’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missiles programs. KOMID and TCB were also designated by the United Nations. UNSCR 2094 requires the imposition of targeted financial sanctions on entities that work for or on behalf of, or at the direction of, UN-designated North Korean entities. Since at least 2007, Daedong Credit Bank (DCB) has facilitated hundreds of financial transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of KOMID and TCB. In some cases, DCB has knowingly facilitated transactions by using deceptive financial practices.

DCB Finance Limited and Kim Chol Sam

Since at least 2006, Daedong Credit Bank has used its front company, DCB Finance Limited, to carry out international financial transactions as a means to avoid scrutiny by financial institutions avoiding business with North Korea. DCB Finance Limited is registered in the British Virgin Islands and also operates out of China.

Kim Chol Sam is a representative for Daedong Credit Bank who has also been involved in managing transactions on behalf of DCB Finance Limited. As a Dalian, China-based representative of DCB, it is suspected Kim Chol Sam has facilitated transactions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and likely managed millions of dollars in North-Korean related accounts.

Son Mun San

Since at least 2010, Son Mun San has served as the External Affairs Bureau Chief of North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE).

GBAE is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program, which includes the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center and its five megawatt plutonium production research reactor, as well as its fuel fabrication and reprocessing facilities. GBAE was designated by the United Nations Security Council in July 2009 and was also designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 in September 2009.

U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the entities and individuals listed today, and any assets they may have subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.

Identifying information:

Entity Name: Daedong Credit Bank
AKA: DCB
AKA: Taedong Credit Bank
Address: Suite 401, Potonggang Hotel, Ansan-Dong, Pyongchon District, Pyongyang, DPRK
Alt. Address: Ansan-dong, Botonggang Hotel, Pongchon, Pyongyang, DPRK
SWIFT: DCBK KPPY

Entity: DCB Finance Limited
Address: Akara Building, 24 de Castro Street, Wickhams Cay I, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Alt. Address: Dalian, China

Name:Kim Chol Sam
Date of Birth: March 11, 1971
Nationality: Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea
Role: Treasurer, Daedong Credit Bank

Name: Son Mun San
Date of Birth: January 23, 1951
Role: External Affairs Bureau Chief, General Bureau of Atomic Energy

According to Reuters:

The U.S. Treasury said Daedong Credit Bank has been providing financial services to the Korea Mining Developing Trading Corp, or KOMID, which it said was Pyongyang’s premier arms dealer, and the Tanchon Commercial Bank, or TCB, its main financial arm.

“Since at least 2007, Daedong Credit Bank has facilitated hundreds of financial transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of KOMID and TCB,” the Treasury said. “In some cases, (it) had knowingly facilitated transactions by using deceptive financial practices.”

The Treasury said it was also sanctioning a Daedong front company called DCB Financial Limited, that company’s representative, Kim Chol Sam, and Son Mun San, the external affairs bureau chief of North Korea’s Bureau of Atomic Energy.

It said the front company had carried out international financial transactions as a way to avoid scrutiny by institutions trying to avoid doing business with North Korea.

The action generally prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in any transactions with the entities or persons targeted, and freezes any assets they might have in the United States.

The fresh set of sanctions follows a decision by the United States in March to target North Korean’s Foreign Trade Bank, its main foreign exchange institution, to try to choke off cash to the government in Pyongyang.

Banks in the European Union have been reluctant to do business with FTB in the wake of the U.S. sanctions, and China’s biggest foreign exchange bank, the Bank of China, closed FTB’s account.

Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen told reporters on a conference call that he expects banks outside the United States to continue to limit or terminate their dealings with the sanctioned banks. “Being exposed to a financial institution like Daedong Credit Bank exposes those financial institutions to real risk, in particular reputational risk,” he said.

Cohen said previous sanctions had increased the North Korean regime’s financial isolation and that these latest designations would ratchet the pressure up further.

Here is the Wall Street Journal’s coverage.

Additional information:

1. Previous posts on Daedong Credit Bank here.

2. The US recently sanctioned the DPRK’s Foreign Trade Bank. Previous posts on the Foreign Trade Bank here.

3. Previous posts on KOMID here.

Read the full story here:
U.S. sanctions North Korea bank as it targets weapons program
Reuters
Paige Gance
2013-6-27

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Foreign shareholding in Daedong Credit Bank sold

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The Taedong Credit Bank offices at the Potonggang Hotel.  See in Google Maps here.

London UK/Pyongyang DPRK, 26 August 2011
The Board of Daedong Credit Bank is pleased to announce that the foreign shareholding in Daedong Credit Bank has been sold to a Chinese based corporate entity, the “Nice Group”.

The foreign-appointed directors on the Board of Daedong Credit Bank have resigned with immediate effect, and have no further interests (financial or fiduciary) in the company.

Outgoing CEO of Daedong Credit Bank, Nigel Cowie noted:

“I am now heavily involved with a second joint venture company in the DPRK, Hana Electronics JVC. Established in 2003, this company has enjoyed solid commercial success and has recently opened its new headquarters building, together with the expansion of its business lines.

The success of both ventures has been such as to necessitate a decision to focus on one or the other, and a commercial decision had to be made.

The bank is continuing to enjoy the commercial success it has seen for the past 16 years, but ironically the decision has been made easier by the general sanctions-laden environment in which financial business here is framed these days.

As to the possibility of ever re-entering the bank, any decision we make will be based purely on commercial considerations.”

Both Hana Electronics and Phoenix Commercial Ventures bank with DCB, and will continue to do so.

About Daedong Credit Bank

Daedong Credit Bank is a joint venture retail bank based in Pyongyang. It was established in 1995 as “Peregrine Daesong Development Bank”. The Bank underwent a change of name and foreign ownership in 2000.

The wealth of experience garnered over Daedong Credit Bank’s 16 years of successful operation is unrivalled.

Daedong Credit Bank was the first, by fifteen years, foreign majority held bank in the DPRK. DCB is proud to be regarded as a flagship successful joint venture in the DPRK, and a key part of the infrastructure needed to assist the foreign-invested joint ventures, which contribute to the country’s economic development.

The bank’s principal function is to offer normal “high street” banking facilities in hard currency to foreign companies, joint ventures, international relief agencies and individuals doing legitimate business in the DPRK.

Daedong Credit Bank was the first bank in the DPRK to introduce, and vigorously implement, a comprehensive set of anti-money laundering procedures. DCB’s anti-money laundering procedure manual was introduced eight years ago, and subsequently updated based on anti-money laundering guidelines provided by the Asian Development Bank. The manual has been sent to, and accepted by, DCB’s international correspondent banks.

Daedong Credit Bank also maintains strict procedures for the detection and rejection of counterfeit bank notes; it uses regularly updated note checking machines, and has personnel with over 15 years of experience of handling notes.

Daedong Credit Bank is strongly positioned in relation to the future economic development of the DPRK, and, being the oldest established foreign invested commercial bank in the DPRK, it is the intention of the bank to capitalise on these advantages.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Daedong Credit Bank office address in Pyongyang is:
Daedong Credit Bank
Suite 401, Potonggang Hotel
Ansan-dong
Pyongchon District
Pyongyang
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
www.daedongcreditbank.com

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Daedong Credit Bank press release

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

The Daedong Credit Bank (Based in the Potonggang Hotel in Pyongyang) has issued a press release.

I have made a PDF of it available here.

Here is their web page.

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Daedong Credit Bank Press Release

Monday, December 20th, 2010

On November 18, 2010, the US Treasury Department issued the following press release:

Treasury Designates Key Nodes of the Illicit Financing Network of North Korea’s Office 39

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13551 for being owned or controlled by Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party.  Office 39 is a secretive branch of the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) that provides critical support to North Korean leadership in part through engaging in illicit economic activities and managing slush funds and generating revenues for the leadership. Office 39 was named in the Annex to E.O. 13551, issued by President Obama on August 30, 2010, in response to the U.S. government’s longstanding concerns regarding North Korea’s involvement in a range of illicit activities, many of which are conducted through government agencies and associated front companies. Korea Daesong Bank is involved in facilitating North Korea’s illicit financing projects, and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation is used to facilitate foreign transactions on behalf of Office 39.

“Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation are key components of Office 39′s financial network supporting North Korea’s illicit and dangerous activities,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.  “Treasury will continue to use its authorities to target and disrupt the financial networks of entities involved in North Korean proliferation and other illicit activities.”

E.O. 13551 targets for sanctions individuals and entities facilitating North Korean trafficking in arms and related materiel; procurement of luxury goods; and engagement in certain illicit economic activities, such as money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods and currency, bulk cash smuggling and narcotics trafficking. As a result of today’s action, any assets of the designated entities that are within U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these entities.

You can learn more about the Treasury’s press release here.

Here is the US Treasury Department’s new North Korea resource page.

In response, the Daedong Credit Bank issued the following press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

US Treasury Press Release 18th November 2010

London UK/Pyongyang DPRK, December 20th 2010

Daedong Credit Bank (DCB) has noted the press release of 18th November 2010 by the US Treasury and makes the following comments:

1.    Korea Daesong Bank (KDB) is a 30% shareholder in DCB.  DCB is not, and never has been, aware of any activity by KDB which is in breach of any of its obligations, domestic or international.  In particular, DCB is not aware of KDB having acted in breach of any sanctions.  DCB is not aware of any cause of concern about the conduct of KDB.

2.    KDB has no executive control of DCB.

3.    DCB is majority owned by overseas investors and is foreign-managed.

4.    DCB does not act and has never acted in breach of any of its domestic or international obligations.  DCB acts in a manner consistent with domestic and international law.

5.    DCB is apolitical and promotes foreign investment in the DPRK as a positive development.

The Daedong Credit Bank looks forward to playing a significant part in facilitating normal commercial relationships between the DPRK and the international business community.

About Daedong Credit Bank

Daedong Credit Bank is a joint venture retail bank based in Pyongyang. It was established in 1995 as “Peregrine Daesong Development Bank”. The Bank underwent a change of name and foreign ownership in 2000.

Daedong Credit Bank is the first, by fifteen years, foreign majority held bank in the DPRK. DCB considers itself a flagship successful joint venture in the DPRK, and a key part of the infrastructure needed to assist the foreign-invested ventures, which drive the country’s economic reforms.

The bank’s principal function is to offer normal “high street” banking facilities in hard currency to; foreign companies, joint ventures, international relief agencies and individuals doing legitimate business in the DPRK.

Daedong Credit Bank was the first bank in the DPRK to introduce, and vigorously implement, a comprehensive set of anti-money laundering procedures. DCB’s anti-money laundering procedure manual was introduced seven years ago, and subsequently updated based on anti-money laundering guidelines provided by the Asian Development Bank. The manual has been sent to, and accepted by, DCB’s international correspondent banks.

Daedong Credit Bank also maintains strict procedures for the detection and rejection of counterfeit bank notes; it uses regularly updated note checking machines, and has personnel with over 10 years’ of experience of handling notes. DCB have encountered and impounded the so-called ‘superdollar’ notes, proving that these notes (despite media misconceptions) are not undetectable.

The wealth of experience garnered over Daedong Credit Bank’s 15 years of successful operation is unrivaled.

Daedong Credit Bank has a significantly strong position in relation to the future economic development of the DPRK and, being the oldest established foreign invested commercial bank in the DPRK, it is the intention of the bank to capitalise on these advantages.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Daedong Credit Bank office address in Pyongyang is:

Daedong Credit Bank
401, Potonggang Hotel
Ansan-dong
Pyongchon District
Pyongyang
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Phone Switchboard  +850 2 381 2228/9    ext 401
Direct line     +850 2 381 4866
Mobile          +850 193 801 8400 *
*Note, the mobile number may not be obtainable from certain countries (eg UK and Hong Kong).
Corporate Website www.daedongcreditbank.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

US Treasury Press Release 18th November 2010

London UK/Pyongyang DPRK, December 20th 2010

Daedong Credit Bank (DCB) has noted the press release of 18th November 2010 by the US Treasury and makes the following comments:

1. Korea Daesong Bank (KDB) is a 30% shareholder in DCB. DCB is not, and never has been, aware of any activity by KDB which is in breach of any of its obligations, domestic or international. In particular, DCB is not aware of KDB having acted in breach of any sanctions. DCB is not aware of any cause of concern about the conduct of KDB.

2. KDB has no executive control of DCB.

3. DCB is majority owned by overseas investors and is foreign-managed.

4. DCB does not act and has never acted in breach of any of its domestic or international obligations. DCB acts in a manner consistent with domestic and international law.

5. DCB is apolitical and promotes foreign investment in the DPRK as a positive development.

The Daedong Credit Bank looks forward to playing a significant part in facilitating normal commercial relationships between the DPRK and the international business community.

About Daedong Credit Bank

Daedong Credit Bank is a joint venture retail bank based in Pyongyang. It was established in 1995 as “Peregrine Daesong Development Bank”. The Bank underwent a change of name and foreign ownership in 2000.

Daedong Credit Bank is the first, by fifteen years, foreign majority held bank in the DPRK. DCB considers itself a flagship successful joint venture in the DPRK, and a key part of the infrastructure needed to assist the foreign-invested ventures, which drive the country’s economic reforms.

The bank’s principal function is to offer normal “high street” banking facilities in hard currency to; foreign companies, joint ventures, international relief agencies and individuals doing legitimate business in the DPRK.

Daedong Credit Bank was the first bank in the DPRK to introduce, and vigorously implement, a comprehensive set of anti-money laundering procedures. DCB’s anti-money laundering procedure manual was introduced seven years ago, and subsequently updated based on anti-money laundering guidelines provided by the Asian Development Bank. The manual has been sent to, and accepted by, DCB’s international correspondent banks.

Daedong Credit Bank also maintains strict procedures for the detection and rejection of counterfeit bank notes; it uses regularly updated note checking machines, and has personnel with over 10 years’ of experience of handling notes. DCB have encountered and impounded the so-called ‘superdollar’ notes, proving that these notes (despite media misconceptions) are not undetectable.

The wealth of experience garnered over Daedong Credit Bank’s 15 years of successful operation is unrivalled.

Daedong Credit Bank has a significantly strong position in relation to the future economic development of the DPRK and, being the oldest established foreign invested commercial bank in the DPRK, it is the intention of the bank to capitalise on these advantages.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Daedong Credit Bank office address in Pyongyang is:

Daedong Credit Bank
401, Potonggang Hotel
Ansan-dong
Pyongchon District
Pyongyang
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Phone

Switchboard +850 2 381 2228/9 ext 401
Direct line
+850 2 381 4866
Mobile
+850 193 801 8400 *
*Note, the mobile number may not be obtainable from certain countries (eg UK and Hong Kong).

Corporate Website www.daedongcreditbank.com

#004

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Interview with Ken Frost, CFO, Phoenix Commerical Ventures

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Interview Blog, Germany
(click here for all their North Korea-related interviews)

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is a venture capital company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the DPRK” – Interview with Ken Frost (CFO of Phoenix)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Mr. Frost, you are member of the Board of Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd, a company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) otherwise known as North Korea. Would you mind introducing yourself and your company as well to our readers?

Ken Frost: Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is a venture capital company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the DPRK, enabling them to take advantage of the economic reforms that are taking place there.

Phoenix is owned and run by four experienced professionals, who are based in London, Paris and the DPRK. The Board has between them many years of international business experience, and an invaluable network of well placed contacts. Phoenix offers a unique service, by being able to offer direct access to the DPRK.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd specialises in project finance in the DPRK. As is well known, the business environment is difficult, and the company targets very specific investment projects; these are small enough to manage and have the capacity to generate foreign currency, either through export or import substitution.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd maintains an office in Pyongyang, almost the only European company to do so, and operates with the following specific aims:

• Identify commercially viable investment projects in the DPRK, on a case by case basis
• Identify reliable local partners for all forms of business in the DPRK, either trade or investment
• Seek overseas investment sources for such projects
• Minimise the risk in such projects, by taking responsibility for supervision of the local set-up procedures and management of the projects

The Board of Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd consists of nationals of the UK, France and the DPRK. The European flavour is enhanced by the fact that most of the counterparties and suppliers in the various projects are also European, and the DPRK government views Phoenix Commercial Ventures as a prime conduit for European business and investment in the DPRK.

One of the directors of Phoenix Commercial Ventures is also General Manager and CEO of the Daedong Credit Bank, the only western-invested foreign bank in the DPRK. Based in Pyongyang, this is a 70-30 joint venture between a UK financial management company based in Hong Kong and the Korea Daesong Bank, one of the main DPRK banks.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures is unique in having this connection with a reliable, locally based financial institution. The synergy benefits include a wider exposure to local business contacts in differing fields; as well as an additional degree of control, made possible by the fact that the various joint venture projects have to maintain their accounts with the bank.

We have a number of projects within DPRK, including two 50/50 joint ventures:

- Hana Electronics JVC, a consumer electronics company now ranked as one of the top three best performing joint ventures in DPRK, as assessed by the Ministry of Finance.

- Sinji JVC, whose main areas of operations are retail, software and bonded processing.

Full details about our company can be found on our website www.pcvltd.com

I am the CFO of Phoenix and am a chartered accountant with over twenty years international experience of FMCG industries, consumer electronics, rough diamond distribution and the Internet. I have worked in KPMG, Philips Electronics, De Beers and run my own Internet company. I am also a Scholar on Gerson Lehrman Group Councils.

In November 2007 I reached the finals of Accountant of the Year held by the Association of International Accountants at the President’s Awards Dinner 2007. This award is designed to recognise organisations’ accountancy stars.

In January 2007 I was awarded, based on recommendations from fellow members of the ICAEW, a New Year’s Honour by AccountingWeb. The award was for my services to the accountancy profession in opposing the merger of the ICAEW with other accountancy bodies.

In November 2006 I was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Professional Financial Managers (IPFM), for my services to the accountancy profession.

In January 2006 Accountancy Age placed me on their Financial Power List for 2006. I was 11th on their list of the top 50 of “The Ones To Watch”. The list identified the “most influential names to look out for” in the world of finance for 2006.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: We read on your website “offers investors business and investment opportunities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), enabling them to take advantage of the economic reforms that are taking place there.” Can you tell us what kind of opportunities this could be?

Ken Frost:There are three main areas of investment opportunities open to investors, which we can facilitate within the DPRK:

1 Small scale investments ($500K or less) yielding good levels of return (20% or more).

These investment opportunities are in local production (consumer goods, bonded processing, software etc) for domestic market consumption and export. These utilise the advantages that DPRK has over all the other countries in the region namely:

- 99% literacy
- skilled/disciplined/hard working workforce
- well educated workforce, many speak a good level of English
- lowest wage rates in the region

Phoenix has a number of opportunities that it can offer investors in this area; eg bonded processing, consumer manufacturing, clothing manufacturing and software development.

2 Natural resources

DPRK has proven abundant natural resources worth several trillion dollars; eg coal, gold, copper, titanium, lead, zinc, nephelite, nickel, magnesia, graphite etc.

The investment required would be of a higher order than the small scale investments above, $1M plus. The money would be used to bring existing mines back to production, by pumping out flood water and renewing worn out capital equipment.

Phoenix has, via its working relationship with CPEEC, a number or opportunities in the natural resource sector that it can offer genuine investors.

3 Infrastructure development

Clearly investment in infrastructure is the costliest form of investment. However, given the dilapidated state of the roads, railways, ports, electricity grid etc it is necessary if the economy is to be revived.

DPRK also has a keen interest in infrastructure development focussed on green/renewable energy areas.

Phoenix has on it books a profitable renewable energy project that would suit a serious, well financed and experienced green energy investor.

The DPRK is the final economic frontier and is a “green field” site. Its primary advantages are:

- Location (physical position between Russia, South Korea, China and in AP)
- Location (historical, all the major players now want to move forward)
- Location (resources, it has abundant rich resources both mineral and human capital – high literacy, well educated etc)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are the main differences between your company and a conventional venture capital company that is investing for example in internet our biotech companies?

Ken Frost: Companies such as those you mention are industry-specific, whereas ours is location-specific. Our company is relevant to people who might want to invest in the DPRK.  We work in the DPRK and have a physical presence in the DPRK, other “conventional” venture capital companies do not.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Are there any differences to other investment companies?

Ken Frost: We apply the same principles to potential investments as any other professional investment company, we look at:

- the risk
- the returns
- the quality of the local management
- the quality of the business plan
- the size of investment
- the share offered for that investment etc

We also pay very close attention to corporate governance issues such as; financial reporting, management structure and ethics etc. We have a code of conduct which can be seen on our website.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and to the pursuit of a sustainable future, both economic and social.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd adheres to three fundamental ethical principles:

- Integrity
- Competence
- Courtesy

To this end Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd has developed a Code of Conduct, which sets out to ensure that these principles are followed in its operations. The Code of Conduct governs Phoenix’s business decisions and actions. The Code applies equally to corporate actions, and to the behaviour of individual employees when conducting business on behalf of Phoenix.

We work very hard with our local management teams and business partners to ensure that international standards re reporting, corporate governance and ethics are understood and followed.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are your plans for the company’s future? How do you see Phoenix Commercial Ventures in five years time?

We see the coming period for Phoenix as that of being continued growth.

In our view there will be a major upswing in economic relations between the DPRK and other countries over the coming months/years. Phoenix Commercial Ventures is uniquely placed to take advantage of, and to respond to, that upswing.

We are one of the very few organisations to have made successful joint ventures in the DPRK. We are also one of the very few organisations to have people with many years’ experience, and cultural sensitivity, actually on the ground in Pyongyang. You cannot run a business by email!

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Update: 2008 Pyongyang International Trade Exhibition

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Update from Dr. Petrov:

Among the foreign companies attending the 11th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair in the DPRK last week was Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd.

Representatives from Phoenix Commercial Ventures attended the fair and manned a stand representing member companies of the European Business Association in Pyongyang, together with members of the management team from Sinji JVC and Hana Electronics JVC (joint venture companies formed with Phoenix) and Daedong Credit Bank – Phoenix’s banking partner in the DPRK – (since 2000 Daedong Credit Bank has been 70% owned and managed by a company run by professional fund managers. The remaining 30% is held by Korea Daesong Bank).

Nigel Cowie (CEO of Phoenix, General Manager and CEO of Daedong Credit Bank and Vice President of the European Business Association) said: “The trade fair provides an ideal venue and opportunity for companies to showcase their products and services, as well as providing an excellent networking opportunity. Phoenix Commercial Ventures and Daedong Credit Bank are proud to have participated in this regular event, which provides a springboard for economic development and growth”.

“Although the fair provides the opportunity for participants to establish new contacts for trade relationships, we also wanted to emphasise investment opportunities. Something that is often overlooked is that it is perfectly possible to create and run successful joint ventures in the DPRK. We have shown this with Daedong Credit Bank, which has been operating successfully for 13 years, and with Hana Electronics, which has been doing the same for five years, and are in the process of repeating the process with Sinji JVC, our youngest joint venture,” concluded Nigel Cowie

An extensive gallery of photos from the trade fair can be viewed on the Phoenix website.

ORIGINAL POST:
DPRK holds it’s largets ever Pyongyang International Trade Exhibition
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
(NK Brief No. 08-5-19-1)
5/19/2008

From May 12th to the 15th, North Korea held the eleventh annual Pyongyang International Summer Product Exhibition in the Three-Revolution Exhibition Center. The trade show hosted over 180 foreign businesses, making it the largest convention to date.

Companies from North Korea, China, Taiwan, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, Syria, Switzerland, Australia, England, Italy, Spain, Vietnam, Thailand, France, Finland, and several other countries participated in the show, displaying a wide range of manufacturing machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, conveyor systems, petrochemical materials, medical supplies, daily necessities, foodstuffs, and other goods.

With more than 120 Chinese companies and more than 30 vendors from Taiwan, North Korea’s largest-ever convention was host to over 50 vendors more this year than the previous record of over 130, set last year.

With a large-screen television positioned at the entrance of the hall displaying multimedia advertisements and a range of large-scale billboards and advertising displays for North Korea’s domestic companies set up around the exhibition center, there was also a distinct sense of commercialism in the air.

In particular, there were several booths selling the wares of large Chinese industries, as well as several affiliates of the Haier Group Co. Ltd., representatives from TCL Electronics Co. Ltd. , sales staff from China Hong Kong Manufacturers Co. Ltd. and other main offices directly participating in the event.

The Pyongyang International Product Exhibition has been held in the summer annually since 1998, and since 2005, a convention has also been held each fall.

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U.K. banker in Macau to transfer BDA funds

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Korea Herald
4/17/2007

London investor Colin McAskill yesterday said he would attempt to transfer $7 million from Macau’s Banco Delta Asia, which the U.S. Treasury has labeled a money launderer, to test if North Korean-linked accounts have access to the international financial system.

The money is part of some $25 million in Banco Delta accounts belonging to North Korean entities and individuals that Macau authorities froze in 2005 after the United States said the bank was laundering money for the communist state. The funds were unfrozen last week as a concession in talks with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.

McAskill, who has agreed to buy North Korea’s Daedong Credit Bank and advises a fund that seeks to invest in the country, said legitimate bank transfers of all the deposits are needed to demonstrate the U.S. Treasury is not shutting North Korea out of the international financial system. He declined to name the bank or country he would attempt to move the funds to.

“I am not sending a truck, or queuing outside in a trench coat with a battered old suitcase to bring the money out in cash, and neither should the DPRK,” McAskill said, using the initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the formal name of North Korea. “The money should and has to be moved through the international banking system to verify both the efficacy and the integrity of the apparent concession by the United States.”

North Korea on Friday said it will only implement a Feb. 13 accord on ending its nuclear program once it confirms “valid” release of the entire $25 million. It missed an agreed upon deadline on April 14 to begin shutting down its nuclear facilities and allowing inspections by the United Nations’ atomic energy agency.

North Korea should “realize fully its commitments under the Feb. 13 agreement by inviting back the IAEA immediately” and sealing the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement posted on the department’s website on Sunday.

Maria de Lurdes Costa, a lawyer and member of Banco Delta Asia’s administration committee, said yesterday that she did not know which if any North Korea-related depositors had been talking with the bank about withdrawing their funds. Even if she knew, “still I wouldn’t tell you,” she said, emphasizing the matters are confidential.

She declined to say if the bank had enough dollar reserves to disburse the full $25 million in U.S. currency. “I would not reply to any of those questions,” she said.

The administrative committee chair, Herculano Jorge de Sousa, received similar queries by fax, a secretary in his office said, but had not had time to respond. The Banking Supervision Department at Banco Delta Asia declined to comment.

The U.S. Treasury ruling that Banco Delta Asia is a “money-laundering concern” becomes final on Wednesday this week, raising the possibility international banks will not do business with the Macao institution. (Bloomberg)

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Bank Buyer Threatens N. Korea Cash Move

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Washington Post
William Foreman
3/27/2007

A British investor who is buying a North Korean bank said Tuesday he is trying to block the transfer of money it holds in a Macau bank in a move that might complicate a deal with the North to shut down its nuclear programs.

North Korea refused last week to return to nuclear disarmament talks until about $25 million of its funds frozen at a Macau bank is transferred to the Bank of China.

The transfer was supposed to occur last week, but was delayed for reasons that have not been fully explained.

The British investor, Colin McAskill, told The Associated Press he “would take whatever steps necessary” to stop the unauthorized transfer of $7 million of the funds held in Macau’s Banco Delta Asia. He said he has written twice to the territory’s bank regulator, the Macau Monetary Authority, without receiving a reply.

McAskill has agreed to buy North Korea’s Daedong Credit Bank, which is majority foreign-owned, and is representing it in discussions with Macau authorities.

He denied a report that he threatened legal action but said that is an option.

Asked whether the money came from legitimate ventures, McAskill said in an e-mail, “I have answered this question many times and been widely quoted as saying, Yes it is.”

The $25 million was frozen in September 2005 after the U.S. accused Banco Delta Asia of helping North Korea launder money and handle counterfeit U.S. currency.

The move enraged the North Koreans, who boycotted the nuclear talks for more than a year. They recently returned to the negotiations after the U.S. agreed to settle the banking issue. The funds were to be transferred to a North Korean-owned account at the Bank of China to be used for humanitarian purposes in North Korea.

McAskill said Daedong wants to be allowed to move the money to a temporary account at another Macau bank and later move it one of Daedong’s correspondent banks.

The U.S. has decided to cut off Banco Delta Asia from the American financial system, and McAskill said Daedong wants to move its money before that ban takes effect in mid-April, making it difficult to transfer money out of U.S. dollar accounts.

On Monday, a senior Treasury Department official held talks with Chinese officials to try untangle the dispute over North Korea’s frozen funds.

Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, met officials from China’s Foreign Ministry to discuss the money held at Banco Delta Asia, said Glaser’s spokeswoman, Molly Millerwise.

Glaser’s meeting was “positive and cordial,” with officials focused on “solutions to the implementation matters and our common interest in addressing this issue as quickly as possible,” Millerwise said in an e-mail.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said Glaser met with officials from the People’s Bank of China and the China Banking Regulatory Commission, but it gave no details.

The U.S. agreed to let the money be transferred to a North Korean account at the Bank of China in Beijing, but the release was delayed by the Chinese bank’s concerns about accepting money that had been linked to counterfeiting and money-laundering.

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Daedong fights U.S.-imposed sanctions on North Korea banks

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

International Herald Tribune
Donald Greenlees
3/8/2007

Last August, Colin McAskill, a British businessman, agreed to buy a small bank in North Korea. On the face of it, Daedong Credit Bank was not a brilliant investment.

The agreement that McAskill signed with the management of Daedong Credit at a hotel in Seoul came as the bank was caught in the grip of financial sanctions that had virtually cut off North Korea from the global financial system.

Financial institutions around the world were shunning any links to North Korean banks, making it almost impossible to transact business.

Daedong Credit was using couriers to carry cash in and out of the country in amounts as high as $2.6 million because it could not make electronic transfers to other banks.

Since September 2005, Daedong Credit had also been fighting to recover $7 million that had been frozen in a Macao bank as part of efforts by the United States to put a financial squeeze on North Korea over alleged illicit financial transactions. This was a big sum for Daedong Credit. When McAskill had examined the bank’s books, its total assets were just $10 million.

None of this has deterred him. He said during an interview in Hong Kong that he planned to execute the sale agreement within the next two weeks and take full control of the only foreign-managed bank in North Korea. The Hong Kong- based Koryo Asia, chaired by McAskill, will take control of the banking license and a 70 percent stake owned by British investors through a Virgin Islands company. The remaining 30 percent is held by the state-owned Daesong Bank. “I think it’s a magnificent deal,” McAskill said, although he would not disclose the purchase price. “The bank has been running for 12 years. It is trusted and it has been profitable since day one.”

Despite McAskill’s optimism, the future of Daedong Credit has been under a cloud since the imposition of the U.S.- orchestrated banking embargo on North Korea 18 months ago and the viability of the business remains precarious.

Even amid signs of a thaw in relations between Pyongyang and Washington, the start of a bilateral dialogue that began in New York on Monday and an agreement in six-nation talks in Beijing on Feb. 13 to start to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, analysts say banks in North Korea will struggle to restore contacts with the global financial system.

The trigger for the financial embargo of North Korea was a declaration by the U.S. Treasury Department under section 311 of the Patriot Act that the Banco Delta Asia, based in Macao, was a “primary money laundering concern” because of its links to a number of North Korean banks, individuals and companies alleged to have engaged in product and currency counterfeiting, drug trafficking and weapons proliferation.

The U.S. and Macanese authorities began separate investigations into Banco Delta Asia and the bank was placed under Macao government supervision.

Along with about 50 North Korean banks, trading companies and individuals, Daedong Credit had its account frozen. The total amount put into “suspense accounts,” according to Banco Delta Asia, was about $25 million, with Daedong Credit accounting for the largest share. Since then, almost all foreign banks that had correspondent relations with Daedong Credit have severed contact for fear of being excluded from the U.S. financial system.

Jack Pritchard, president of the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, said it was unlikely that the United States would send an explicit signal to the financial community to resume trading with North Korea, regardless of whether Pyongyang starts to address concerns about its foreign financial transactions.

He said that although a portion of the frozen money was likely to be released soon, there would not be a “100 percent reversal” of the American stance on financial transactions with North Korea.

Daedong Credit is likely to be one of the first North Korean account holders in Banco Delta Asia to get its money back from the Macao Monetary Authority where it has been earning no interest.

In recent months, McAskill has circled the globe from his home in London acting under a mandate from Daedong Credit to persuade officials in Washington and Macao to release the account. At 66, McAskill has spent 28 years doing business with North Korea, including as a consultant to North Korean banks on debt negotiations and helping to operate North Korean foreign gold sales. He said that at no stage in his meetings with officials from either the U.S. or Macao governments had he seen any specific reason for freezing the Daedong Credit money or been told of any specific allegation about its origins.

McAskill has produced what he calls a “dossier of proof” to establish the identity of all the customers whose money is frozen and the sources of the money. Since it was founded by the failed Hong Kong finance group Peregrine in 1995, Daedong Credit has filled a valuable niche serving the foreign community in Pyongyang. It has about 200 customers among foreign-invested joint ventures, foreign relief organizations and foreign individuals, according to McAskill. The biggest single amount frozen in Macao is $2.6 million belonging to British American Tobacco, which owns a cigarette plant in North Korea.

“We irrefutably established that the money was legal,” McAskill said. “The U.S. Treasury have been going around the world saying to banks ‘close this account, close that account’ but not offering any proof of wrongdoing.” He said his due diligence of Daedong Credit had convinced him that it was a “fully legal, legitimate operation” that did not manage state accounts or had ever been connected to illicit practices.

One of the Treasury’s main allegations against Banco Delta Asia is that it facilitated the spread of counterfeit $100 bills. But McAskill said Daedong Credit had put $49 million into Banco Delta Asia in 2005 and all that money had been forwarded to HSBC for verification.

Only three of the $100 notes belonging to Daedong Credit were confiscated because they were “suspect,” he said.

McAskill has charged the Treasury with harassment after two correspondent banks — one in Vietnam and the other in Mongolia — informed Daedong Credit late last year that they would immediately close accounts because of pressure from the United States.

But it is likely to prove difficult to persuade banks, nervous about the effect on Banco Delta Asia of the long- running Treasury investigation, to take the risk of dealing with a North Korean counterpart, regardless of the pedigree of its shareholders and board.

Last week, at a meeting in Macao, McAskill was finally told by the head of a government-appointed committee supervising Banco Delta Asia, Herculano de Sousa, that it was likely that the money in Daedong Credit would be returned by the end of March.

In the meeting, McAskill told de Sousa that once the funds were freed, Daedong Credit intended to leave the money in Banco Delta Asia and resume operating its old account.

But Banco Delta Asia has informed the U.S. Treasury that as part of its cleanup both the administrative committee and the shareholders were adamant that they no longer would do business with any North Korea entities. In doing so, the bank hopes to avoid the United States making good on a threat to ban Banco Delta Asia from having any correspondent relationships with U.S. banks.

Still, McAskill insisted that Daedong Credit has not broken any law in Macao or elsewhere and that there were no grounds for it to be forced to close its account.

“I am not going to take my money back and cut and run,” he said.

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North Korea’s Profession: Entrepreneur

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

From Businessweek:
Joe McDonald
11/5/2006

In the midst of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program, a Western company is there searching for oil. Another just bought a bank.

“North Korea is hungry for business,” said Roger Barrett, the British founder of Beijing-based Korea Business Consultants, who recently took 11 Asian and European clients to Pyongyang to play golf and make contacts.

A small group of Westerners are taking on the challenge of doing business in the isolated North, hoping to get in on the ground floor as its communist rulers experiment with economic reform.

The obstacles are daunting. A Stalinist dictatorship, bureaucracy and language barriers. Foreign sanctions that block most financial transfers, making it hard to get paid and to get supplies. And now worries that United Nations sanctions imposed after North Korea’s Oct. 9 nuclear test could be expanded to a general clampdown on trade.

But the Westerners talk positively about the North as a business environment, with skilled workers and leaders who they say welcome foreign investment.

“They are very skillful and hardworking,” said Felix Abt, a Swiss businessman who oversees two ventures in Pyongyang, one that makes business and game software for sale in Europe and another that makes antibiotics and painkillers for the domestic market. “It’s sometimes faster to get licenses and necessary approvals here than it is in China or Vietnam.”

Barrett said that even as the U.N. Security Council debated the latest sanctions on the North, he got inquiries from investors interested in its rich mineral resources and low-cost manufacturing work force.

“Investors are rushing into China, but labor costs there are escalating, and companies are looking for an alternative,” Barrett said. North Korea “has absolutely the capabilities to take off like South Korea.”

So far the largest foreign business community in North Korea is from China, its main source of trade and aid.

South Korea accounts for most of the North’s foreign investment, with stakes totaling $620 million in an export-manufacturing zone and a resort for foreigners. China’s investments total just $31 million, according to the Chinese Commerce Ministry.

U.S. regulations allow American companies to trade with North Korea under limited conditions, though tensions between the governments and lack of diplomatic relations raises the risk of doing business. Britain, Germany, Sweden and other Western governments, meanwhile, have official relations with Pyongyang.

North Korea’s foreign trade has risen sharply, though the total was less than $4 billion last year, according to South Korean and Chinese government figures. Trade with the South soared by more than 50 percent in 2005 to just over $1 billion.

Most trade is carried out by North Korean state companies, not private entrepreneurs. And some partners are shying away. Trade with Japan, once the North’s No. 1 trading partner, tumbled from $1.3 billion in 2001 to just $200 million last year amid tensions with Tokyo over North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and ’80s.

The Europeans’ chamber of commerce in Pyongyang had 12 members when it was launched last year. They include delivery company DHL Express, an Italian law firm and a German venture founded in 2003 to provide Internet access to foreign businesses in Pyongyang.

This tentative foothold follows the slow pace of economic reform in North Korea. Only in 2002 did North Korean leader Kim Jong Il allow limited free enterprise to revive a decrepit economy, which teetered in the 1990s following the loss of Soviet aid and then collapsed amid widespread food shortages. Still, foreign observers say officials are reluctant to give up control, despite prodding from Beijing, which wants faster reforms to reduce its ally’s dependence on aid.

Abt, the Swiss businessman, moved to Pyongyang in 2002 after seven years working in Vietnam, another Asian communist economy in the throes of reform.

“I heard that some economic reforms were in the pipeline, and I was quite thrilled to experience the beginning,” said Abt.

Now his Vietnamese wife takes their 14-month-old daughter to play at an international school. After work, he goes out to sing karaoke with North Korean co-workers.

But Abt has felt the bite of efforts to pressure the North.

Foreign banks have been leery since Washington last year sanctioned Macau’s Banco Delta Asia, which the U.S. said helped the North launder money. China told its banks this month to curtail financial transfers to or from the North.

“It’s getting difficult to make bank transfers to suppliers or to get money from customers,” Abt said.

He worries that the factory might have to shut down if U.N. sanctions block imports of required chemicals on the grounds that they also could have military uses.

Barrett said his clients have lost access to $11 million in Banco Delta Asia accounts that were frozen by the U.S. sanctions.

Colin McAskill, a British businessman who has done business with the North since the 1970s, is lobbying Washington to fine-tune its sanctions so the bank’s customers can withdraw money that was made legally.

McAskill is chairman of Hong Kong-based Koryo Asia Ltd., which said in September it was buying a 70 percent controlling stake in Daedong Credit Bank, North Korea’s first foreign-owned financial institution. The bank, which is 30 percent owned by a North Korean bank, serves foreign companies and has accounts at Banco Delta Asia.

North Korea also has turned to Western investors in hopes of developing oil resources and reducing its near-total reliance on China for fuel. It awarded a 20-year exploration concession last year to Aminex plc, a London firm.

Aminex is helping the North Korean government deal with other foreign companies, and in exchange gets to pick where it will drill for oil, its chief executive, Brian Hall, said by phone from London.

Aminex hasn’t felt any effects from the nuclear tumult, Hall said.

“We have good relations and no problems with the agreements but are closely watching the political situation,” he said.

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