Sunday, February 04, 2007

More on DPRK Money Laundering

We've had a post or two on the Six Party Talks and some of the other issues being addressed in the run up to this week's meetings. Of interest in this regard is a report from the IHT that demonstrates some of the difficulties authorities face when trying to prosecute international financial crimes.

According to the report, the bank that is being accused of helping North Korea launder its high quality, counterfeit US $100 dollar bills, Banco Delta Asia (BDA), says it relied on the Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in New York to authenticate large deposits of US currency. The notes were purportedly shipped to New York, analyzed, and authenticated prior to being credited to depositor's account. The notes are notoriously of high quality, but, nevertheless, a former US Treasury official is quoted in the story as being pretty confident that they'd be identified immediately. HSBC, of course, refused comment. A classic case of he said, she said it seems. But this one should be pretty easy to solve: were the notes shipped or not? Not that this absolves BDA of any wrongdoing, but I'd be interested to know. I never imagined that the counterfeiting/laundering process involved actually shipping fake money back into the US for verification before it entered the money supply.

Also, the report notes that, in his talks with DPRK officials last Wednesday, U.S. deputy assistant Treasury secretary, Daniel Glaser reviewed 50 individual accounts with his counterparts. One has to wonder why the US, which had for so long refused any and all direct meetings with the North, would now being reviewing accounts one by one with the North prior to this week's meeting. It's also interesting that an official at Glaser's level is doing so. Does this suggest that the issue of the DPRK's frozen assets is one where we might see some movement this week?

No comments: