News / Asia

US Targeting Secret Funds of North Korea's Kim

VOA News
A senior U.S. official says Washington is trying to block North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from accessing secret funds deposited in overseas bank accounts as it pressures him to stop developing nuclear weapons.

In an interview with VOA's Korean Service, the U.S. Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, said his department is looking for "very large amounts" of Kim's money.

"I can say that we are very actively looking for where that money may be.  If we identify where it is, we will do everything we can to deprive the Kim family's access to those funds," said Cohen.

After Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il died in December 2011, some foreign media reports said the late Kim may have deposited at least $4 billion in European banks, including those of Switzerland.

Cohen said U.S. authorities are targeting the money as part of efforts to restrict North Korea's ability to finance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which world powers see as a threat to regional security.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Pyongyang for carrying out nuclear and missile tests in recent months in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Washington also is trying to thwart a years-old North Korean program of counterfeiting US$100 dollar bills to fund those illicit activities, said Cohen.

"We believe North Korea is continuing to try to pass a supernote into the international financial system. It is less of an issue that it was a few years ago," he said. "It seems to have calmed down to some extent, but it is something that continues and it is something we are very focused on."

Cohen said the United States will introduce a new $100 bill with sophisticated security features later this year to make it harder for North Korea and others to counterfeit.

The Treasury official also expressed concern about another source of North Korea's foreign currency - an industrial zone that it jointly operates with South Korea on the northern side of the inter-Korean border.

"Precisely what North Koreans do with earnings from Kaesong, I think, is something that we are concerned about," said Cohen. "All of the hard currency earnings of North Korea are something I would say that we should be concerned about. There are a number of thousands of workers at Kaesong who get paid for their services, so I think it is a complicated situation."

Kaesong is a near-decade old industrial complex where South Korean manufacturers have hired cheap North Korean labor. Pyongyang withdrew its more than 50,000 workers from the industrial zone last week. forcing a rare shutdown in production at one of the only symbols of inter-Korean cooperation.

North Korea's move was in protest at joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that it sees as a prelude to an invasion of the North. Washington and Seoul insist the drills are defensive. Pyongyang also has condemned the two allies for supporting the latest sanctions imposed on the North by the U.N. Security Council in March.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tun Aung from: Maarssen, The Netherlands
April 16, 2013 3:19 AM
Hunderd thousands of North- Koreans who are living in Japan and in the world send their money back to North-Korean via illegal money remittance groups. It is the way for Kim's North Korea to earn a lot of millions of foreign hard currencies.

by: pepe
April 15, 2013 9:15 PM
Most international accounts are held by Americans/Jews.

by: Emma Eelc
April 15, 2013 3:59 PM
I don't think they will fire those rockets today, they are not so crazy. At least I hope so.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs