Monday, February 26, 2007

North Korea probe turns to banks

Source: CNN.

HONG KONG, China (AP) -- A U.S. Treasury Department delegation worked Monday to resolve sanctions against a Macau bank accused of helping North Korea launder money -- a key condition in the North's agreement to give up its nuclear weapons program.

The meeting with Macau officials came about two weeks after North Korea agreed in six-nation talks to take initial steps to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for aid. Washington agreed on the meeting's sidelines to settle the financial sanctions by mid-March.

On Monday, Dale Kreisher, spokesman at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, declined to say whether Washington was ready to lift the sanctions on Banco Delta Asia, accused of helping North Korea's money laundering and counterfeiting.

But Kreisher, whose office is responsible for Macau, told The Associated Press, "Discussions (with North Korea) along with the U.S. investigation have brought Treasury to the point where they think they can begin taking steps to resolve the BDA matter."

Washington slapped restrictions on Banco Delta Asia in 2005 and put it on a money-laundering blacklist. This prompted Macau to freeze about US$24 million at the bank. Consequently, banks worldwide shunned North Korean business for fears of losing access to American markets.

Many believe the sanctions dealt a severe blow to cash-strapped North Korea, which denied the allegations and boycotted the six-nation nuclear talks over the issue for a year.

Banco Delta Asia has said that money might have been laundered at the bank, but added there is no evidence the institution was aware of it. The bank said it is small, family-owned, and didn't have the technology to check big batches of U.S. currency for fake bills.

The bank also said it used a dated computer system and that it didn't pay enough attention to maintaining its own books. It has also said the bank didn't have adequate written anti-money-laundering policies for its staff.

Macau was a Portuguese enclave before it returned to Chinese rule in 1999. The territory -- the only place in China where casinos are legal -- recently displaced the Las Vegas Strip as the world's most lucrative gaming center.

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At 11/10/2008 3:22 AM, Anonymous Dolly said...

Good words.

At 11/10/2008 5:50 AM, Blogger Rosemary said...

Thank you, but I did not write this. CNN wrote it. I created this blog so I could store the articles in case they move their links (which happens all the time!). This way my readers don't have to go uninformed. :)

Have a nice day.


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