China Probes N.Korea's Bank Accounts

      May 09, 2013 12:33

      Chinese authorities have identified most of the accounts of North Korean companies and individuals in major Chinese banks, a diplomatic source in Beijing said Wednesday.

      Three or four North Korean banks in Dandong, the biggest trading hub between North Korea and China, have reportedly closed down.

      According to the source, Chinese authorities have combed through all North Korea-related accounts in major Chinese banks in an effort to implement sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in the wake of the North's latest nuclear test.

      In the process, North Korea apparently tried to dodge detection by opening new bank accounts under borrowed or false names, but Chinese authorities traced these accounts too.

      A man uses an ATM machine at a Bank of China branch in Beijing on Wednesday. /AP-Newsis

      If the accounts prove to be linked to illegal activities like nuclear weapons and missile development, Beijing apparently plans to impose sanctions on each individual North Korean bank, just as it did when the Bank of China cut ties with the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea on Tuesday.

      Another source in China said, "It seems the U.S. provided China with indisputable evidence of illegal activities by the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea."

      In principle, North Korean banks in China are barred from remittance and currency exchange business and are nominally mere liaison offices. But in fact Beijing used to look the other way when they carried out such transactions for North Korean agencies and firms.

      Now Chinese authorities are taking a tougher line.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's own money and cash for the North Korean military crosses the border in diplomatic pouches to avoid customs inspections, a North Korean source said.

      A North Korean businessman said, "More than 20,000 Korean Chinese live in Dandong, and we've been dealing with many Chinese for more than a decade. There are lots of ways to remit money to the North."

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