A further four North Korean banks were blocked from the world’s primary financial messaging service on Thursday, as they were not in-line with the organization’s membership criteria.
The SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system allows banks and financial institutions to communicate about transactions and trades. But this month SWIFT has blocked seven DPRK banks from using its services.
The Belgium-based group barred three banks designated by the UN on March 9, and another four that were not included on UN or EU blacklists on Thursday.
“The DPRK banks remaining on the network are no longer compliant with SWIFT’s membership criteria. As a result, these entities will no longer have access to the SWIFT financial messaging service,” a SWIFT spokesperson told NK News.
“Given the increased ongoing international attention on the DPRK, SWIFT has informed the Belgian and EU authorities.”
SWIFT did not reveal the names of the newly blocked banks to NK News, though a recent article from the Wall Street Journal on March listed four DPRK banks which were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department which continued to use the service.
The four banks were the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kumgang Bank; Koryo Credit Development Bank and North East Asia Bank.
According to the U.S. Department of Treasury said the Foreign Trade Bank facilitates “transactions on behalf of actors linked to its proliferation network, which is under increasing pressure from recent international sanctions.”
Reuters reported SWIFT’s actions were unusual given the banks were not sanctioned by the EU or UN, and the group had previously resisted pressure to cut off institutions from other countries in Washington’s crosshairs.
“Removing them was long overdue. Taking steps to deny services to other DPRK banks is prudent because the jurisdiction is identified as a money laundering threat,” William Newcomb, a former member of the UN Panel of Experts told NK News.
“There is no way for banks to be certain that funds originating or destined for DPRK are legitimate transfers, i.e. international banks are unable to take Financial Action Task Force-required countermeasures such as enhanced due diligence (EDD) in dealings with DPRK financial institutions.”
Newcomb added the action would make it more difficult for North Korean banks to send money quickly and securely and might push the DPRK towards making greater use of cash couriers.
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Featured Image: Pyongyang Dusk by m•o•m•o on 2012-03-10 01:06:18