KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — The United Nations (UN) is investigating a Malaysian company for possibly violating sanctions by setting up a bank in North Korea via a joint venture, The Straits Times (ST) reported.
The Singaporean daily cited a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) report that said MKP (Malaysia Korea Partners) Holdings was probed for establishing the International Consortium Bank in Pyongyang through a joint venture.
The move was prohibited under UN sanctions that bar institutions from establishing joint ventures and from taking an ownership interest in North Korean banks.
The report came after international newswire Reuters, citing a UNSC report, revealed that another Malaysian company called Glocom, which was allegedly a front for the North Korean spy agency, had flouted UN sanctions that were implemented in response to North Korea’s nuclear arms programme.
According to ST, MKP deals with “investments”, and is jointly controlled by Malaysian businessman Yong Kok Yeap, and North Korean Han Hun-il, also known as Edward Han. Its main office is reportedly located in Balakong, Selangor.
MKP’s website stated that it started as a construction company, but has since expanded into shipbuilding, trading, banking, medical technology and eco-tourism.
The website also claimed that MKP has been involved in North Korean-linked projects for decades and that it even built a paddy museum in Kedah that showcased murals by North Korean artists.
The Star paper reported that MKP had organised an art exhibition called “Window to Pyongyang” in Kuala Lumpur in 2008 that was officiated by then Transport Minister Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat. The report said the exhibition was attended by then South Korean ambassador Yang Bong-ryull and an MKP Group chief executive officer named Dr Edward Han.
Ong told ST that MKP director Yong was also present, and “seemed to be quite intimate” with North Korea.
The Singaporean paper also reported that an MKP officer denied that the company had any involvement with North Korean entities and that there was “no person at MKP Holdings called Mr Edward Han”, claiming that Yong was the sole director.
Company documents, however, showed that Han has been MKP’s director since 1998, according to ST.
ST also cited a report by South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo last month that said Han was one of the North Korean regime’s financiers and had business ties with Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The South Korean daily reportedly said Han likely provided North Korean officials with information on Jong-nam’s travel plans to Malaysia.
Jong-nam was killed at KLIA2 on February 13. Two foreign women have been charged with his murder.