FACTBOX-North Korea's shady "Office 39"

Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:55am GMT
 

Nov 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned two North Korean firms linked to Office 39 of the Korean Workers' Party, a North Korean entity that Washington accuses of drug smuggling and other illicit activities.

The Treasury Department named the two entities as Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation, which it described as "key components of Office 39's financial network supporting North Korea's illicit and dangerous activities". [ID:nN18295881]

Here are some details about the secretive government bureau:

* Office 39 of the Korean Workers' Party engages in illicit economic activity to support the North Korean government, the U.S. Treasury says.

* It has branches throughout the nation that raise and manage funds and is responsible for earning foreign currency for senior party leaders through illicit activities such as narcotics trafficking.

* Office 39 controls a number of entities inside North Korea and abroad through which the Treasury says it is involved in the production, smuggling and distribution of narcotics and it has also been involved in the attempted procurement and transfer to North Korea of luxury goods.

* It produced methamphetamine and was also involved in its supply to small-scale North Korean smugglers for distribution through China and South Korea. It also operates poppy farms and produces opium and heroin, the Treasury says.

* In 2009, Office 39 was involved in the failed attempt to purchase and export to North Korea -- through China -- two Italian-made luxury yachts worth more than $15 million and destined for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the Treasury says.

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