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Head of N.K.'s blacklisted bank was purged 2 yrs ago: RFA

All News 14:21 September 29, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- Ri Il-su, head of North Korea's China-based Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. under U.N. sanctions, was purged by the North Korean regime for an unknown charge two years ago, a U.S.-based broadcaster reported Thursday.

"Kwangson head Ri Il-su was summoned in around 2014 and purged," the Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, citing a North Korean trader staying in China's northeastern Liaoning Province.

Based in the Chinese border city of Dandong, Kwangson is an affiliate of the North's Foreign Trade Bank. The bank was blacklisted by the U.S. and the U.N. in March for providing financial services for the North's weapons of mass destruction programs. It recently turned out that the bank is a big shareholder of China's Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co., which was also blacklisted by the U.S. government of late for having exported to the North in recent years aluminum oxide that can be used in uranium enrichment.

"Ri's charge has yet to be exactly known, but I think he was punished as he was classified as a member of the Jang Song-thaek faction," the trader said. Jang, an uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was executed for treason in 2013.

Ri had managed secret funds of North Korean elites, including Jang and Kim Kyong-hui, the leader's aunt, he said,

Ri could have stayed in China for a long time by gaining their confidence with good results he had made via money laundering and illegal exchange.

Rumor has it that Ri and other Kwangson officials were called to Pyongyang after Jang's removal, and executed, according to the trader.

RFA quoted another Chinese source as saying, "Kwangson has never acquired an official business permit from the Chinese authorities, and thus has made illegal transactions even without hanging the bank's sign publicly. It's nothing more than a currency exchange."

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