[imText1]In amongst the North Korean accounts that were frozen from Macao’s Banco Delta Bank (BDA) was joint funds from a British tobacco company which has been deemed difficult to recover.
The U.K. Financial Times reported on the 18th that the $7mn of the $24mn in North Korea funds frozen in BDA accounts is from Korean trusts and banks of which half the funds is estimated to from a joint account by British American Tobacco (BAT) and a tobacco company trading by North Korea.
BAT’s spokesperson Catherine Armstrong revealed in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on the 18th “The money has been certified as legal so we’re very keen to get the money out of the frozen account.”
Regarding the amount of frozen funds, Armstrong said “As there are no substantial data, an actual figure cannot be revealed but I am aware it is nearing tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Raphael Perl, a specialist at the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) said “We don’t necessarily know on its face that the North Korean tobacco company is not also involved in criminal activity” and revealed “As North Korea sells fake cigarettes on a large scale, every tobacco company in North Korea is being suspected of conspiring illegal acts.”
Perl said “Even in the case a company is internationally based, a company is not completely owned internationally but if a joint ownership, it is even more difficult to discern whether or not the transaction was legitimate.”
In another sense, as reports suggest that “The U.S. Administration told North Korea $12mn of the $24mn frozen funds appears to be unrelated to North Korea’s illegal actions,” others are cautiously anticipating progress from the six party talks as North Korea’s legitimate funds are released.