South Korean and U.S. authorities have found dozens of accounts presumed to belong to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in several banks in Shanghai and other parts of China. They contain hundreds of millions of dollars.
Yet for some reason the accounts were excluded from financial sanctions under the new UN Security Council Resolution 2098, which was adopted last Thursday, posing questions over the effectiveness of the measures.
A government source here said an investigation that lasted for several years led South Korea and the U.S. to the accounts. "We have located the names of the account holders and account numbers, some of them set up in the days of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il," the source added.
South Korean and U.S. officials urged China to include the accounts in the latest sanctions against North Korea, but Beijing apparently refused. "Following North Korea's third nuclear test, China has demonstrated willingness to take part in sanctions against the North," the government source said. "But Beijing is reluctant to touch North Korea's real Achilles heel."
The South Korean government believes freezing the bank accounts would have a stronger impact than freezing Kim Jong-il's accounts held at Macau's Banco Delta Asia some years ago because they hold much more money.
In 2005, the U.S. froze US$25 million Kim Jong-il had deposited in some 50 accounts at BDA. North Korea hit back by boycotting the six-party nuclear talks, launching a long-range missile and conducting its first nuclear test in 2006.
The latest UN sanctions in response to North Korea's third nuclear test require banks in member countries to halt financial services for the North involving funds that could be used to develop nuclear weapons or missiles. The sanctions also prohibit North Korean banks from engaging in new financial activities in UN member nations and vice versa.