Frozen bank accounts hold $12 million from Hyundai

Joong Ang Daily
Choi Hyung-kyu, Kwon Hyuk-joo

Half of the $24 million in North Korean assets held in the frozen Banco Delta Asia accounts came from the Hyundai Group of South Korea, sources here told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. Other sources said North Korea will be able to access some of the frozen holdings next week, because the money had been proven “legitimate.”

The Macao-based bank froze the North Korean holdings last year after the U.S. government accused Pyongyang of financial crimes, such as money laundering and counterfeiting U.S. dollars. Since then, the North has made the unfreezing of those assets a precondition for the nuclear disarmament negotiations.

A U.S. source who requested anonymity said yesterday the $12 million was a part of Hyundai Group’s payments to North Korea for inter-Korean businesses. The money was wired in several payments, the source said. The payments were initially sent to other bank accounts that deal with North Korea, the source said, and then forwarded to the Banco Delta Asia accounts from there.

To deposit a large sum, an account holder must inform the bank in Macao about the source of the money and its purpose. The source showed North Korean account holders’ statements which claimed the deposits came from Hyundai.

Another source well informed about Banco Delta Asia affairs also said the money came from Hyundai.

“It is not easy to distinguish how much of the North Korean assets was earned from legitimate economic activities,” a senior South Korean government official said. “To sort the matter out, the United States and North Korea should meet and discuss the issue.”

In Beijing, O Kwang-chol, the president of the Foreign Trade Bank of Korea, has been meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser since Tuesday.

Signs also pointed to a thawing of the freeze on the accounts in the near future. Other sources said Pyongyang has dispatched officials to the city of Zhuhai in China with papers necessary to withdraw the $12 million from the bank in Macao. They said access will likely be granted Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Hyundai Asan, Hyundai Group’s North Korea business arm, said yesterday it has not sent any money to a Banco Delta Asia account. The Mount Kumgang tour program began in 1998.

The company said it has wired $1 million a month to an overseas bank account designated by North Korea.

A senior official with Hyundai Asan said North Korea frequently changed the account. “I don’t know if our payment was later wired to BDA accounts or not, but I think that could be possible,” he said.

Hyundai Group provided $500 million to North Korea on the eve of the 2000 inter-Korean summit by wiring the money to a North Korean account with a foreign bank, but the sum currently frozen at the Banco Delta Asia accounts is not connected to that, the sources said.


One Response to “Frozen bank accounts hold $12 million from Hyundai”

  1. Kim says:

    I am a college student. Im tryig to write a Bio paper on the International financial manager for Hyundai (automotive) and anything significant they have doe to reduce or worsen as the case may be thier global financial risk. I cant find a name anywhere. Do you kow who this person is or where there is a website I can find information out about him/her? Please email a reply to me if you are able to give me some guidance. Thank you in advance for your assistnace on this matter.