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North Korean trading executives smuggling cash by train

Inspections are less stringent on cross-border trains, according to a source in China.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 29, 2016 at 10:11 PM
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SEOUL, March 29 (UPI) -- North Korean trading companies under United Nations Security Council sanctions are secretly bypassing restrictions on money transfers.

A source near the China-North Korea border told South Korean news outlet Daily NK North Korean trading company executives are loading foreign currency on inter-border trains that travel between Beijing and Pyongyang.

U.N. sanctions resolution 2270, which passed in early March, includes provisions that ban foreign financial firms from opening branches in North Korea without approval and forbids North Korean banks from opening offices overseas.

Existing branches of North Korean banks in U.N. member states like China were also ordered closed within 90 days, and China tightened restrictions on remittances to North Korea ahead of sanctions.

According to the source, "As cash flows, transfers of U.S. dollars and Chinese yuan were completely blocked by banking systems, North Korean trading company representatives have been secretly transporting foreign currency by train."

Inspections are less stringent on cross-border trains, according to the source, and the North Koreans take extra precaution to disguise the cash, wrapping the money in packaging that reflects light – which prevents detection.

China is not the only country where North Koreans are smuggling cash back into their country.

Yonhap reported two North Korean nationals were caught while carrying large sums of money, while transferring planes in Sri Lanka.

Daily NK's source said the North Korean executives use tactics that "surpass the common imagination" to take foreign currency back home.

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