North Korea has opened accounts at 23 banks in 10 countries since the United States imposed financial sanctions on two banks in Macao last year, the Sankei Shimbun reported on its website Saturday.
The 10 countries include Vietnam, Mongolia and Russia, the newspaper said, quoting sources familiar with North Korean affairs.
Washington has begun to urge those countries to freeze North Korean bank accounts in a bid to shut down the transfer of funds, the report said.
Washington designated Banco Delta Asia SARL last year as a bank allegedly counterfeiting US dollars and laundering money for North Korea, barring US financial institutions from dealing with it and leading the Macao government to freeze related bank accounts last fall.
The United States confirmed last month that a major Chinese bank, the Bank of China, has frozen accounts related to North Korea.
These US law enforcement measures dealt a severer-than-expected blow to North Korea and apparently prompted it to open accounts in some of the countries with which it has diplomatic ties, centering on those in Southeast Asia, the report said.
The sources were quoted as saying senior US Treasury officials visited Vietnam soon after the unanimous passage of a resolution condemning North Korea’s launches of ballistic missiles by the UN Security Council last month.
The US officials reportedly pointed out there are some 10 North Korean accounts in Vietnamese banks and urged Vietnam to take stern measures.
Vietnam responded positively to the US request, the report said.
The United States is likely to make similar requests to Thailand and Mongolia as well, according to the report.
In order to fend off such a crackdown, North Korea for its part has begun to open its bank accounts in the name of individuals rather than business corporations that are subject to strict surveillance, the report said.