N. Korea opens accounts at 23 banks in 10 countries: report

Posted on : 2006-08-19 14:30 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST

North Korea has opened accounts at 23 banks in 10 countries following the U.S. imposition of financial sanctions on a bank in Macau last year, a Japanese newspaper reported Saturday.

The Sankei Shimbun said on its Web site the 10 countries include Vietnam, Mongolia and Russia, quoting sources familiar with North Korean affairs.

In September, the United States banned all American financial institutions from transacting with a Macau-based bank, Banco Delta Asia, accusing it of aiding North Korea in circulation of counterfeit U.S. dollars allegedly printed in the communist state.

The U.S. also confirmed last month that the Bank of China, a major Chinese lender, had frozen all of its North Korean accounts suspected of being connected with the North's alleged counterfeiting activities.

The North's opening of the bank accounts has prompted Washington to urge those countries to freeze North Korean bank accounts in a bid to shut down the transfer of funds, the report said.

According to the report, senior U.S. Treasury Department officials visited Vietnam soon after the U.N. Security Council's unanimous passage of a resolution condemning North Korea's launches of ballistic missiles last month.

The U.S. officials reportedly urged Vietnam to take stern measures against some 10 North Korean accounts in Vietnamese banks and Vietnam responded positively to the U.S. request, it said.

Pyongyang has been staying away from six-nation talks on the North's nuclear ambitions since November, shortly after Washington imposed sanctions on the Macau bank.

The communist state says it will not return to the nuclear talks until Washington lifts the financial sanctions.

The nuclear talks involve the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

Tokyo, Aug. 19 (Yonhap News)

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