Monday, March 27, 2006

United States May Seek Criminal Charges Against Kim Jong-il

Two U.S. senior congressional researchers say Washington could bring criminal charges against North Korean leader Kim Jong-il over his country’s counterfeiting of U.S. dollars. The two authors of a Congressional Research Service report say the U.S.'s increasing keenness to back up its allegations with legal evidence is fueling speculation that it is considering going after Kim. According to the report, the impoverished communist state may earn as much as US$15 million to 25 million each year from counterfeiting. Last year, the U.S. took action against a Macau-based bank, Banco-Delta Asia, for allegedly supporting North Korea's illegal activities. North Korea denies any state involvement in forgery.
Kim Jong-il
The report says the U.S. may try to press criminal charges against the North Korean leader in a similar way to how it overthrew Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian leader. Noriega stood trial in the U.S. on a number of charges including drug trafficking and was imprisoned in 1992. The report also questions the credibility of South Korean information on Pyongyang's criminal activities, as Seoul pursues a more conciliatory policy with the North. According to the report, Washington's recent financial measures against the North have dealt a blow to North Korea's illicit activities as well as its legitimate trade. It adds the U.S. could now either ease financial pressure on the North and jumpstart stalled multilateral talks over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions or it could tighten them. It said strengthening financial snctions against the North would come at the risk of angering China and South Korea.