Leaked documents from the Treasury’s FinCen investigative agency suggest that North Korea may have laundered money through its banks.
NBC News on September 20 cited leaked documents from the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Network (FinCen), accusing North Korean officials of trying to “wash” at least $ 174 million through banks. US goods, aimed at evading sanctions in the past few years.
This document is a collection of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) sent by banks to FinCen when they suspect a client’s transaction is showing signs of obscurity, including money laundering. The 22,000-page document was then leaked to BuzzFeed News and sent to various media outlets for joint analysis.
One of the major banks named in the document is JPMorgan Chase, in which North Korean officials are suspected of using a variety of shell companies, sometimes backed by Chinese businesses, to proceed. money laundering.
The document cites a report submitted by JPMorgan to the US Treasury Department that said the bank allowed transfers of nearly $ 90 million related to companies believed to have ties to Pyongyang between 2011 and 2013.
These companies were previously classified by JPMorgan as “questionable”. JPMorgan also confirmed that it has increased prevention of money laundering by using resources and complying with the law.
Signage outside the JPMorgan Chase headquarters in New York, USA, September 19, 2013. Photo: Reuters.
“The documents you have in front of you, I think will help explain why North Korea has succeeded in evading sanctions,” said Hugh Griffiths, a former United Nations official who monitors North Korean sanctions. , told NBC News. The former official also said that this document is very valuable because very few journalists, investigators, have access to internal bank documents.
Eric Lorber, a former Treasury Department official, argues that the document shows what “is like a long landfall through the American financial system through various routes in quite sophisticated ways.” Because”.
US Treasury officials declined to comment on the news, adding that they had reported the matter to the Justice Department. “FinCen has previously stated that the unauthorized leakage of confidential reports is a crime that could compromise US national security, compromise regulatory investigations and threaten safety, and the security of organizations and individuals that have submitted such reports, “the ministry said.
JPMorgan Chase is one of the oldest financial services firms in the world. This New York-based company is a leader in financial services, investment banking, and asset management. JPMorgan’s assets are currently $ 2,441 billion, the largest bank in the US.
Since 2006, after North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, the United Nations Security Council (UN) passed resolution No. 1718 to impose a number of sanctions against the country in all fields. includes trade, arms and diplomacy as well as a number of sanctions including banning the sale of luxury goods, expanding the freezing of bank assets abroad.
In September 2017, the UN Security Council passed a resolution to increase sanctions on North Korea after it conducted its sixth nuclear test. However, North Korea is believed to still conduct some secret activities. secret to evade sanctions.