Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Report confirms Macau bank's role

AFP , TOKYO

Japanese police have confirmed that North Korea used accounts at a Macau-based bank to pay for equipment that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction, a report said yesterday.

The revelation was the first to detail the flow of illegal North Korean funds through Banco Delta Asia (BDA), allegedly linked to Pyongyang's illicit activities, the Yomiuri Shimbun said, quoting investigative sources.

The fate of the bank accounts now frozen under pressure from Washington may be high on the agenda of six-party talks on North Korea that could resume by the end of the month.

According to the daily, a corporation directly linked to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il asked a Tokyo-based trading firm to ship a freeze dryer that could be used to develop biological weapons.

On July 29, 2002, the North Korean company sent some ?6.15 million (US$521,000) from the BDA account to an account held by the trading house at a commercial bank.

In September 2002, ?1.98 million was also transmitted from a BDA account held by another North Korean company to an account opened by a separate Japanese trading firm for purchases of power supply devices that could be used to enrich uranium.

The US government has said BDA's accounts had been used as vital financial windows for North Korea's illegal counterfeiting and money laundering.

North Korea has been also suspected of using the accounts to buy luxuries for Kim and goods used as gifts from him to high-ranking military officers before they were frozen in February.

Since the BDA accounts were frozen, Pyongyang has sought to open new accounts in other countries including Mongolia, Russia and Vietnam.

North Korea said on Wednesday it would end its year-long boycott of the disarmament talks with South Korea, China, the US, Japan and Russia on condition that the issue of lifting US financial sanctions would be settled during the negotiations.

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