Posted July. 23, 2010 11:15,
The U.S. government will reportedly freeze some 100 illegal bank accounts allegedly linked to North Korea, a diplomatic source said Thursday.
Washington is known to have discovered about 200 bank accounts worldwide linked to Pyongyang in the process of mulling financial sanctions separate from those of the U.N. since the March 26 sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan.
The U.S. is closely tracking 100 of the suspected accounts that are highly likely to be illegal, the source said.
If Washington takes action against the accounts, including suspension of transactions, its sanctions are expected to be stronger than the September 2005 freeze of 25 million U.S. dollars in the Norths accounts at the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia.
As U.N. Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874 ban financial transactions that could be used for weapons of mass destruction or missile programs, bank accounts under borrowed names related to such transactions can be seen as illegal, the source said.
Investigations by the CIA and the Treasury Department will reveal how many of the 100 accounts are directly linked to illegal transactions.
The source said the level of sanctions sought will likely be 100 times stronger than the measures taken against Banco Delta Asia.
Even if Washington imposes sanctions on illegal accounts, however, it will likely ask each bank to close them rather than disclosing them on its official gazette, the source said.
Disclosing the names of the banks where the accounts were opened will likely cause a strong protest from the banks because of possible damage to the banks` reputations and transactions, the source said. The U.S. government has continued to consult the banks and will likely induce them to quietly close the accounts.
A detailed outline of the U.S. financial sanctions is expected to be released by Robert J. Einhorn, new U.S. coordinator for sanctions on North Korea and Iran, when he visits Seoul early next month.