U.S. hails Bank of China’s freeze

Joong Ang Daily
July 28, 2006

North’s accounts were in Macau branch, Korean legislator says 

The United States is encouraged by Beijing’s “affirmative steps” in freezing North Korean accounts at a Chinese bank, White House Spokesman Tony Snow said on Wednesday.

His remarks were the first official confirmation of a South Korean lawmaker’s earlier claim that the Bank of China had frozen North Korean assets. Beijing remained silent on the issue after Grand National Party lawmaker Park Jin revealed the news, citing an unidentified former White House official as his source, after a trip to Washington.

Mr. Park said yesterday that the frozen accounts he was referring to were only in the Bank of China’s Macau branch, but that he is looking into whether the Beijing branch will make a similar move.

Mr. Snow was asked if Washington had knowledge of China’s actions in regard to freezing accounts. He answered yes, and said the move was related to counterfeiting issues.

In a related development, Stuart Levey, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence of the U.S. Treasury department warned yesterday in an interview with Yonhap News Agency that North Korea could use funds legally gained through trade for military purposes. A diplomatic source in Washington said yesterday the remarks by Mr. Levey could mean Washington might pressure Seoul about the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the Mount Kumgang tours, through which Pyongyang receives cash from the South.

A government official in Seoul said yesterday that if Washington tries to alter the current course of inter-Korean projects it would meet “heavy resistance” from Seoul.

Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok has repeatedly said the inter-Korean projects would not be influenced by North Korea’s recent missile salvo.

In October last year, the U.S. Treasury department designated eight North Korean entities as being involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Under U.S. law, all transactions between the designated entities and any person in the United States are prohibited while all assets of these entities are frozen in territories under U.S. jurisdiction. 


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