Meanwhile, the Philippines’ relatively lax anti-money laundering laws featured prominently in a 2016 cyber bank heist in which North Koreans allegedly funneled $81 million from the Bangladeshi Central Bank to Manila, Boydston said.
“The world should be concerned about these non-proliferation and otherwise criminal behaviors as they relate to the Philippines-DPRK relationship, although in (President Donald) Trump’s call with (Philippine President Rodrigo) Duterte last month, these specific issues weren’t discussed.”
Pyongyang’s relationship with Southeast Asian countries has made headlines recently following the February assassination of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Malaysia and a subsequent Reuters investigation that indicated North Korean agents in Kuala Lumpur ran a military equipment firm called Glocom that violated UN sanctions.
Even generally law-abiding Singapore is implicated in North Korea’s shady industries, as revealed in a May 15 post by Andrea Berger, senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, on popular publication Arms Control Wonk.
Singaporean regulations lack specific UN resolution clauses that ban all financial transactions related to North Korea’s conventional weapons, Berger explained. Proliferation finance prosecutions are only doable in cases where funds directly support Pyongyang’s nuclear program, as opposed to the country’s broader arms industry, she explained