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European banks stop sending money to North Korea

The Bank of China announced it was shutting the Foreign Trade Bank account earlier this month. It gave no reason for the move.

A representative from another European NGO, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Louis Vuitton Iphone 7 he had "little hope" that a recent money transfer would reach North Korea. He declined to name the group's European bank.

The Bank of China decision was the first significant step taken by a Chinese entity to curb dealings with North Korea following growing international pressure to punish Pyongyang over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The biggest problem had been the Bank of China's recent decision to shut the account of the North's Foreign Trade Bank, EU officials and non governmental organisations said. Money to North Korea was routed through China's biggest foreign exchange bank, they said.

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identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

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sanctions on Pyongyang's main foreign exchange bank, leaving them scrambling for a solution short of hand carrying cash into the impoverished country.

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are worried about the impact.

some European embassies in Pyongyang were having similar difficulties with transferring funds. agencies in Pyongyang did not have any immediate comment. officials have urged the European Union to put sanctions on the bank. EU diplomats have discussed the issue but Lv Alma Monogram

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French NGO Triangle Generation Humanitaire said its French bank would no longer send funds for its operating expenses even though the EU had not yet imposed sanctions, said Anne Trehondart, desk officer in charge of Asia for the group.

One EU source said there were indications Mens Lv Backpack

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One source familiar with the matter said a possibility being examined by EU officials was to issue a so called "letter of comfort" which would explicitly say funding was for humanitarian and development use. The idea is this would provide cover for a bank to make a transaction, said the source, who declined to be Louis Vuitton Mini Pochette Accessoires

Aid groups said if it became impossible to send enough money to operate, donors might withdraw support for their programmes.

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Washington had raised the issue of the Foreign Trade Bank with China, although Beijing has not commented publicly on the matter. Japan has imposed sanctions on the bank and Australia is expected to follow suit.

Experts have said Washington's move was designed to make international banks that do business in the United States think twice about dealing with North Korea, in much the same way banks have become wary about having ties with financial institutions in sanctions hit Iran. agencies and embassies in Pyongyang have to use the Foreign Trade Bank, aid workers and other officials have said.

"This could eventually reduce our ability to carry out projects or even force a complete close down," Mathias Mogge, director of programmes for German aid group Welthungerhilfe, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Chinese firms doing business in North Korea said they were also finding it difficult because Chinese banks were becoming increasingly reluctant to deal with their North Korean counterparts, whether it was the Foreign Trade Bank or other banks.

Six European NGOs have offices in North Korea. American NGOs work in North Korea but none have a permanent office in the country. Aid groups in North Korea work to alleviate poverty and malnutrition as well as the impact of natural disasters.

"So far all our bank accounts with North Korea have been channelled through the Bank of China. This option is closed now for us," said Simone Pott, a spokeswoman for Welthungerhilfe. sanctions.

The only alternative would be to send an expatriate employee on a "cash run" from China to North Korea a limited option because Chinese customs only allow foreigners to take a few thousand dollars out of the country at a time, he said.

Washington imposed sanctions on the Foreign Trade Bank in March after accusing it of helping fund Pyongyang's banned nuclear weapons programme. entities or individuals and the bank.

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"According to the sanctions, it's not forbidden. This makes plain that some banks are just reluctant to transfer money there," said Trehondart, declining to name the French bank.

"We are concerned regarding possible unintended effects of certain sanctions such as the designation of the FTB, in particular with regard to humanitarian assistance, and we are looking into possible means to overcome the unintended effects," said a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

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Most of the limited number of flights to North Korea originate in China.

"If all the agencies had to pull out, it would affect millions of people," said Mogge, who has just returned from the reclusive state.

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