World

Malaysian minister urges probe 
of fund transfers to North Korea

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia should investigate the possible transfer of funds to North Korea's leadership, the deputy home minister said yesterday, after Reuters reported that the head of a Malaysian conglomerate had for years funnelled cash to Pyongyang.

Reuters on Monday cited a North Korean defector as saying that Mr Han Hun Il, the North Korean founding chief executive of Malaysia Korea Partners (MKP), had funnelled money to the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party for the past two decades.

MKP's bank subsidiary in Pyongyang is under investigation by the UN for possible violations of sanctions barring foreign companies from setting up joint ventures with, or taking an ownership interest in, North Korean banks.

The reports risk damaging Kuala Lumpur's reputation as a financial centre, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said, and called on the central bank to investigate if there had been any misuse of the country's banking systems.

"We have to investigate if, among other things, North Korea was using the friendship with Malaysia as a conduit for illicit activities," he said.

ARMS EXPORT OPERATION

Malaysian police should conduct their own investigation into MKP and Han to determine if any crime had been committed, Mr Nur Jazlan added.

Last month, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said authorities would assist the UN in its investigation into MKP.

In February, it was reported that North Korea's spy agency was running an arms export operation out of Malaysia.

Close ties between Malaysia and North Korea have come under scrutiny following the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the elder half-brother of North Korea's ruler, with the toxic VX nerve agent on Feb 13 in Kuala Lumpur. - REUTERS

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