Company director from North Korea said to have had business ties with Kim Jong Nam and may have given Pyongyang his travel plans, according to South Korean media.
PETALING JAYA: More than a month after the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the spotlight is still on Malaysia and its links with the reclusive communist state of North Korea.
Questions are swirling over Malaysian firm MKP Holdings, which a Singapore daily says is just one example of Malaysia’s failure to comply with United Nations (UN) resolutions, The Straits Times reported.
According to a UN Security Council report, UN sanctions prohibit institutions from “establishing joint ventures and from taking an ownership interest” in North Korean banks.
The same report goes on to state that MKP, short for Malaysia Korea Partners, is being investigated for establishing The International Consortium Bank (ICB) in Pyongyang via a joint venture, the daily said.
According to the Singapore daily, its own investigations into MKP found that the company is jointly controlled by Malaysian businessman Yong Kok Yeap and a North Korean named Han Hun Il, and who also goes by the name Edward Han.
Information on the company’s website states that ICB is licensed by North Korea’s central bank in accordance with the communist state’s foreign investment laws, the daily said.
MKP had also declared in its website that it had been involved in North Korean-linked projects for decades.
A visit by the daily to the company’s main office in Balakong, outside Kuala Lumpur, last week was met with threats from staff, who said they will call the police over the “invasion of privacy”.
An attempt to visit Yong’s home also proved fruitless, but an officer with MKP named Siti Suzaini later told ST that the information on the website was outdated. Siti also denied any involvement with North Korean entities, adding that Yong was the sole director of the company.
Although checks by the daily showed that Han had been a director at MKP since 1998, Siti said there was “no person at MKP Holdings called Mr Edward Han”.
Last month, South Korean media had identified Han as one of the regime’s financiers, adding that he also had business ties with Jong Nam.
South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo also cited an unnamed source who said Han had likely provided North Korean authorities with information on Jong Nam’s travel plans to Malaysia. Han is also believed to have not showed up for work since a week before the Feb 13 killing of Jong Nam at the klia2 airport in Sepang.
Police have also not responded to questions by the daily on MKP.
Both MKP and the Malaysian government appeared to be keeping mum on the firm’s activities despite queries from the UN.
According to ST, this was just one example of Malaysia’s failure to enforce UN resolutions meant to stifle North Korea’s nuclear arms programme. The report added that Malaysia was now scrambling to come down on North Korean activities.
It quoted a senior government official involved in law enforcement who told the paper that authorities had been “working backwards” since the murder to counter the idea that Malaysia was fertile ground for covert North Korean activities.
On Feb 28, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the existence of two companies named by Reuters as fronts for North Korea to carry out espionage activities from Malaysia.
He said International Global System Sdn Bhd and International Golden Services Sdn Bhd were in the process of being “struck off”.
According to Reuters, Glocom was registered in 2009 by “two Malaysian companies controlled by North Korean shareholders and directors”.
One of the companies used an address in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, the report added.
Glocom advertised over 30 radio systems for “military and paramilitary” organisations on its Malaysian website, glocom.com.my, which has since been taken down.
The report said Glocom had thrice taken part in Malaysia’s biennial arms show, Defence Services Asia.
It added that in July last year, an air shipment of North Korean military communications equipment bound for Eritrea had been intercepted, and the seized equipment included 45 boxes of battlefield radios and accessories labelled “Glocom”.
North Korea is under an arms embargo by the UN due to its refusal to cooperate with international agencies over alleged nuclear arms.