Thursday, May 04, 2006
AN OVER-EAGER PRESS?
In the case of recent allegations of North Korean money-laundering and/or counterfeiting, apparently so; at least according to Daedong Credit Bank official Nigel Cowie
One further incident occurred specifically to us, which I would like to relate, and you can draw your own conclusions.Somehow, this doesn't surprise me much.
At the end of last year, we opened new accounts with Golomt Bank of Mongolia, in Ulaanbaatar. We discussed in detail with them procedures for handling cash transactions in a legally correct manner, as well as providing them with a copy of
our anti-money laundering procedure manual, a manual that, incidentally had been accepted by our other correspondent banks.
On 21 February, our designated couriers transported a cash deposit to Mongolia,
consisting of USD1 million and JPY20 million; the couriers were met, as previously agreed, by Golomt Bank officials together with local police at Ulaanbaatar International Airport. However, the couriers were then detained by Mongolian
intelligence agents who took them, and the cash, to the Bank of Mongolia (central bank); the couriers were accused of importing counterfeit currency.
DCB’s couriers were detained outside the Bank of Mongolia for most of the night, whilst the intelligence agents claimed to be checking the authenticity of the cash. The next day they alleged that USD61,700 was suspected to be counterfeit; the alleged fakes were sent, together with two additional notes randomly taken
from each remaining USD10,000 bundle of cash, for further examination at an unspecified location.
On 22 February the Mongolian press carried false reports, based on a leak, to the effect that “North Korean diplomats had been intercepted smuggling USD1 million and JPY200 million (not JPY20 million) into Mongolia”. These reports were subsequently carried by international news agencies.
Our Treasurer was dispatched to Mongolia, where he was subsequently joined by me, to protest this action and demand the return of its funds.
On 7 March, after holding the cash for 14 days claiming they were still checking it, the intelligence officials in a meeting with us finally conceded that all the notes were genuine; the cash was released. The money was deposited with the Golomt Bank of Mongolia on 9 March, as had originally been intended.
By the way, I would like to add that this is not a complaint against the Mongolian
authorities. All the meetings I attended were most cordial, and I had the impression that all the officials I met were just trying to do their job. At the final meeting with Mongolian intelligence, they appeared rather embarrassed
that they had been given incorrect information..