Chinese banks stop serving North Korean citizens

The banks have stopped providing financial services to new North Korean customers, amid concerns that China has not adopted a tough stance on North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests, workers at four major state-owned banks in China said.

Tension between the United States and North Korea escalated after Pyongyang’s sixth and strongest nuclear test on Sept. 3, prompting the Security Council to tighten sanctions on North Korea on Tuesday.

Chinese banks are under scrutiny for their role as intermediaries to transfer funds to and from North Korea.

An employee of China Construction Bank (CCB) in a branch in northeast China’s Liaoning Province said the bank had “completely banned transactions with North Korea,” adding that the ban began on Aug. 28.

A person who responded to a customer hotline at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank, said the bank had stopped opening accounts for North Korean and Iranian nationals from July 16. He gave no reason and did not answer further questions.

The measures taken by China’s largest bank began at the end of last year when the bank’s branch in Dandong City stopped allowing individuals and companies from North Korea to open accounts, said a bank employee who declined to be identified.

The Bank of China employee said that North Koreans with accounts in the bank can not deposit or withdraw money from them.

An employee of the Agricultural Bank of China in Dandong, northeast China, on the border with North Korea, said North Koreans could not open accounts at the bank. The official gave no further details