December 19, 2005 19:33
North Korea has moved what to all intents and purposes was its representative office in Macau, the Zokwang Trading Co. The office sign is gone, and North Korean staff of Zokwang Trading across the street from the Macau Department of Transport have disappeared.
A source said Zokwang moved its offices to nearby Zhuhai around the time the U.S. banned transactions of American financial firms with the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia for allegedly being a major money-laundering channel for the North. “Other North Korean firms have also moved their head offices to China because they faced difficulties operating in Macau,” the source added.
North Korea previously had about a dozen firms operating in Macau, but after Banco Delta Asia cut off dealings with them, the North pulled all but three or four out. Banco Delta Asia announced it was suspending transactions with the North just after the U.S. went public with its allegations about the North’s criminal activities, which it says include currency forgery, drug smuggling and arms proliferation.
Zokwang Trading played the role of both consular office and intelligence service. Some staff members are now commuting between Zhuhai and Macau. The U.S. accuses the company of being in charge of money laundering and the distribution of counterfeit dollars though transactions with the Banco Delta Asia, as well as receiving parts needed to develop the country's nuclear program.
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