AUGUST 05, 2006 03:14
It is reported that after the U.S. froze North Korea’s accounts in Macao’s bank, North Korea changed its account to a bank in Singapore.
The U.S. Department of Treasury listed this bank as being related to North Korea’s illegal funds and is currently conducting an investigation. There are also speculations that North Korean Foreign Minister Baek Nam Soon’s two visits to Singapore around the time of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had a connection to the funds.
Singapore Becoming the New Safe Haven—
Recently, a source in Washington D.C. said, “With the American administration raising its pressure on North Korea’s funds in Macao, North Korea attempted to change its bank to Singapore, and the new haven is known as a small bank referred to as O Bank.”
On August 3, a U.S. government official also said in an interview with Dong-A Ilbo, “O Bank is a problem bank. This bank is on the list of banks related to North Korea, which the U.S. government keeps a close eye on.” With the U.S. tracing its funds, North Korea tried to disperse them, and by the official’s statement it was officially confirmed that Singapore, an international finance city, has become one of the safe havens.”
Mystery Regarding Minister Baek—
With the relation between O Bank and North Korea surfacing, Foreign Minister Baek’s two visits to Singapore around July 28, while ARF was held, are also drawing attention. Minister Baek left Pyongyang on July 25, stopped in Beijing, spent two days in Singapore and finally arrived at Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon of July 27. At the time, the South Korean government explained, “Minister Baek stopped by Singapore for kidney dialysis. It wasn’t for any particular reason.” Nevertheless, on his journey back home, Minister Back spent three days, from August 1 to 3, in Singapore, meeting with Singapore government officials.
When asked by Dong-A Ilbo if Minister Baek’s stay in Singapore was related to O Bank, the U.S. government official answered, “Don’t you think that it would be logical to think so?”
North Korean Cooperates in Counterfeit Dollar Investigation—
It was also reported that the U.S. government has grasped considerable information regarding the creation and distribution of North Korean counterfeit dollar bills, based on the testimonies of one or two North Koreans apprehended last year.
In the first half of last year, the Department of Justice arrested 87 Taiwanese triad gang members in Long Beach, California, and Atlantic City, New Jersey. They were charged with smuggling counterfeit dollar bills and tobacco. A U.S. government official stated, “It is true that some North Korean were among the arrested 87. However, they will not be punished because they cooperated with the investigation.”